Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Website Makeover Contest Rules


OFFICIAL RULES. NO PURCHASE NECESSARY TO ENTER THE CONTEST.
A PURCHASE DOES NOT INCREASE YOUR CHANCES OF WINNING.

Submitting an entry constitutes your full and unconditional agreement to and acceptance of these Official Rules and the decisions of the Sponsor and judges, which shall be final and binding on all matters relating to the Contest.

1.     Contest Entry Period: The Website Makeover Contest (“Contest”) begins at 12:01 a.m. E.T. on August 8, 2012 and ends at 11:59 p.m. E.T. on August 31, 2012 (“Contest Period”).

2.     Eligibility: The Contest is open only to legal residents of the 50 United States and the District of Columbia and Canada (excluding Quebec), who have reached the age of majority in their state, province or territory in which they reside on the last day of the month prior to the date of entry. Employees of Brandemix, Inc. (the "Sponsor"), their respective parents, subsidiaries, divisions, affiliates, suppliers, distributors and advertising, promotional and judging agencies, and their immediate family members (spouses, parents, children, and siblings and their spouses) and household members of each (whether related or not), are not eligible to participate or win. Void in Quebec and where prohibited by law. All federal, state, provincial, and local laws and regulations apply.

3.     How to Enter the Contest: You may enter the contest by sending an email to website@brandemix.com and including the following items: First name, Last name, company name, phone number, and web site address, plus a photo of your web site before it went through a makeover, and a photo of your web site after it went through a makeover.  PHOTO REQUIREMENTS: The maximum file size of photo is 10 MB and your photo must be in one of the following file formats: jpg, .jpeg, non-animated .gif, .png, or .bmp. All entry components submitted during part of the registration process shall herein be referred to as the "Entry". 
Normal Internet access, usage charges imposed by your on-line service will apply.  Entries must be received by 11:59 p.m. ET on Friday, August 31, 2012. Entries that are late, incomplete, unreadable, inaccurate, unintelligible or otherwise not in compliance with these Official Rules will be disqualified. Sponsor is not responsible for lost, destroyed or misdirected entries.  Each Entrant grants to Sponsor a worldwide, royalty-free, perpetual, non-exclusive right and license to copy, distribute, and display each submitted Entry, in any media, and with right to use, copy, modify, edit, and create derivative works there from, and agrees to execute documents confirming such right and license (as further defined in Section 9, below) at Sponsor's reasonable request. By entering, you understand that if your Entry is approved by the judges, your Entry may be posted online, in Sponsor's sole discretion, to be viewed by members of the general public. Entrants may not copy or otherwise plagiarize any portion of the Entry from any source. No information regarding Entries or judging, other than as otherwise set forth in these Official Rules or on the website listed above, will be disclosed. Each Entry submitted must be unique. Use of any automated or computer system to participate is prohibited and will result in disqualification. Normal Internet access and usage charges imposed by your online service may apply. 
  1. Judging:  Each submitted Entry will be judged by a panel of Sponsor-selected judges on or about September 4th (“Judging Period”), to determine the top 10 Entries who will be presented to the general public during the voting period, based on the following judging criteria: Most Improved (40%); Visual Appeal (30%); Originality (30%).  In the event of a tie, tied Entries will be re-judged by the judges based solely on Most Improved (100%). 
  2. Voting Period:  The top 10 entries determined from the Judging Period will be posted online for public voting.  The online voting period (“Voting Period”) will begin at 12:01 am ET on September 5, 2012 and ends at 11:59pm ET on September 14, 2012.  To cast an entry during the Voting Period, visit: http://pinterest.com/brandemix/ and visit the board named “Websites Before & After” (“Pinterest Board”) and either liking your favorite entry, commenting on it, or re-pinning it.  The entries with the most comments, likes, and re-pins will be determined the Grand Prize winner.  Anyone visiting the Pinterest Board during the Voting Period is eligible to vote.  In order to cast a vote, voters must have their own Pinterest account.  If you do not have a Pinterest account, you may sign up for a free account by visiting www.pinterest.com and clicking on “Request an Invite”, and then filling out the registration form, and wait for an email determining that your Pinterest account is live. Winning the Grand Prize is determined solely based on the highest number of likes, comments, and re-pins received during the Voting Period. Winning is contingent upon fulfilling all requirements of these Official Rules and Sponsor's decisions as to the administration of the Contest and prize awards are final. In the event of a tie during the Voting Period, sponsor will re-judge the tied entries based on Originality (100%) to determine the Grand Prize winner.
  3. Winner Notification: The Grand Prize winner will be notified on or about September 17, 2012 by phone/email and will then be required to sign and return a Liability and Publicity Release (except where prohibited by law), or if potential Grand Prize winner is a Canadian resident, a Declaration of Compliance and assignment of rights within three (3) days of notification attempt or prize will be forfeited and an alternate will be chosen. Liability Release/Declaration of Compliance (as applicable) will be sent via email and winner will need to return the Liability Release/Declaration of Compliance within three (3) days of notification via fax or email and send the original Liability Release/Declaration of Compliance back via mail. Return of prize notification as undeliverable may result in disqualification and alternate determination, time permitting.
7.     Grand Prize and Approximate Retail Value (“ARV”): Contest Grand Prize (1): Free Press Release distributed to hundreds of outlets, accounting both the design achievement and the victory; Video shoot capturing the success of the web site redesign and those responsible for it.  The ARV of the Grand Prize is USD $575.  No substitutions, exchanges, refunds or other compensation will be made for any reason, including cancellation of the contest. Winners are responsible for all taxes associated with claiming this prize.  No responsibility or liability is assumed for damages, losses or injury resulting from acceptance or use of prize. All federal, state and local, municipal and provincial taxes are the sole responsibility of winners, as applicable.

  1. General Rules: By participating in the Contest, Entrants agree to be bound by these Official Rules and the decisions of the Sponsor/Judges. Judges' decisions are final on all matters relating to the Contest. All Entries will be declared made by the authorized account holder of the e-mail address submitted at the time of Entry. "Authorized Account Holder" is defined as the natural person who is assigned to an e-mail address by an Internet access provider, online service provider, or other organization (e.g., business, educational institution, etc.) that is responsible for assigning e-mail addresses for the domain associated with the submitted e-mail address. The Sponsor and its agencies are not responsible for technical, hardware, software or telephone malfunctions of any kind, lost or unavailable network connections, or failed, incorrect, incomplete, inaccurate, garbled or delayed electronic communications caused by the user or by any of the equipment or programming associated with or utilized in the Contest or by any human error which may occur in the Contest. Sponsor reserves the right to cancel the Contest if any aspect of the Contest becomes technically corrupted, and determine the Contest Grand Prize winner based on the judging criteria from Entries received prior to cancellation (where applicable). The Sponsor reserves the right at its sole discretion to disqualify any individual that tampers or attempts to tamper with the Entry process or the operation of the Contest or Entry; violates the Official Rules; or acts in an unsportsmanlike or disruptive manner, or with intent to annoy, abuse, threaten or harass any other person. Any attempt by any person to deliberately undermine the legitimate operation of the Contest may be a violation of criminal and civil law, and, should such an attempt be made, Sponsor reserves the right to seek damages from any such person to the fullest extent permitted by law. Sponsor's failure to enforce any term of these Official Rules shall not constitute a waiver of that provision. By participating in the Contest, you agree that the Sponsor, its agencies, Pinterest, and each of their respective affiliates, officers, directors, agents, and employees will have no liability or responsibility for any claim arising in connection with participation in the Contest or the awarding of any prize. Winners assume all liability for any injury or damage caused, or claimed to be caused, by participation in the Contest or use or redemption of any prize.
  2. Release: For the good and valuable consideration of participating in the Contest and having your Entry considered for use by Sponsor or any of their websites and/or as otherwise detailed below, sufficiency of which, you hereby acknowledge, you hereby grant to Sponsor, its parent companies, affiliates, brands, subsidiaries, successors, licensees, agents and agencies and those they may designate from time to time (all of the foregoing, the "Contest Entities"), an exclusive, worldwide, perpetual, irrevocable, fully paid-up, royalty-free, fully sublicenseable and transferable right to use, reproduce, modify, adapt, publish, translate, create derivative works from, distribute, transmit, display, and perform such Entry, in whole or in part, in any media, format or technology, whether now known or hereafter discovered, and in any manner including all promotional, advertising, marketing, publicity, and commercial uses and ancillary uses thereof, without any further notice or payment to or permission needed from you (except where prohibited by law). You also hereby grant to the Contest Entities an unrestricted, worldwide, perpetual, irrevocable, fully paid-up, royalty-free, fully sublicensable and transferable right to use your name, photo, Entry, nickname, user name and biographical information (collectively "Personal Content") as contained in your Entry, and Footage (for Grand Prize winner) in composite or distorted form or as otherwise incorporated into other creative works of authorship, in any media, format or technology, whether now known or hereafter discovered, and in any manner including all promotional, advertising, marketing, publicity, and commercial uses and ancillary uses thereof, without any further notice or payment to or permission needed from you (except where prohibited by law). Without limitation of the foregoing, submission of an Entry constitutes your agreement that the Contest Entities are permitted (but are not obligated) to display the Entry online (whether on Licensed Entities' web pages, applications or on third party web pages or applications), to incorporate the Entry in online and offline promotional advertising, marketing, and/or other commercial materials, and to reproduce, adapt and distribute the Entry in all media whether now known or later developed. In addition, you hereby assign to the Sponsor all rights, titles, and interests that you may be deemed to have in any reproduction, product, or derivative work using or incorporating the Entry. You represent and warrant that: (i) the Entry does not and shall not infringe on any copyright or trademark or any other third-party right nor violate any applicable law or regulation, (ii) you have the right to grant any and all necessary rights and licenses provided herein, including without limitation, all necessary copyright, trademark and other related rights to the Entry, free and clear of all claims and encumbrances without violating the rights of any person or entity, including any right to privacy or publicity. You waive any right to inspect or approve uses of the Entry or to be compensated for any such uses. By entering, you hereby release and discharge, on behalf of yourself and your successors, assigns and representatives, the Contest Entities and each of their respective officers, directors and employees from any and all claims, suits, actions, demands, liabilities and damages of any kind whatsoever arising out of or in connection with the following: use of such Entry, or Personal Content, or any other rights granted to Sponsor by any of the Contest Entities, including, without limitation, any and all claims for copyright infringement, invasion of privacy, violation of the right of publicity and persona, and/or defamation. Without limitation of the foregoing, in no event will you be entitled to, and you waive any right to, enjoin, restrain or interfere with use of the Entry or your Personal Content embodied in such Communication as permitted hereunder or the exploitation of any of the Contest Entities' rights hereunder. You further agree to release and indemnify and hold harmless the Contest Entities from any and all claims that any commercial, advertising, presentation, web content or any other material subsequently produced, presented, and/or prepared by or on behalf of Contest Entities infringes on your rights as contained in the Entry. You agree that you shall have no right of approval, no claim to compensation or benefit, and no claim (including, without limitation, claims based upon invasion of privacy, copyright infringement, defamation, or right or publicity) arising out of any use of Entry, or Personal Content or any editing, distortion, alteration, optical illusion, or use in partial or composite form, whether or not intentional. By participating in the Contest, you agree to release and hold harmless the Contest Entities and Pinterest from and against any claim or cause of action arising out of participation in the Contest or receipt or use of any prize.
  3. Disputes: You agree that any and all disputes, claims and causes of action arising out of, or connected with, the Contest or any prize awarded shall be resolved individually, without resort to any form of class action, and exclusively by the appropriate court located in the State of New York in the U.S. All issues and questions concerning the construction, validity, interpretation and enforceability of these Official Rules, your rights and obligations, or the rights and obligations of the Sponsor in connection with the Contest, shall be governed by, and construed in accordance with, the laws of the State of New York, without giving effect to any choice of law or conflict of law rules (whether of the State of New York or any other jurisdiction), which would cause the application of the laws of any jurisdiction other than the State of New York in the U.S.
  4. Winner's List: For the winner's name, available after September 17, 2012, send a self addressed stamped envelope no later than September 30, 2012, to: Web Site Makeover Contest Winner’s List, 1270 Broadway, Suite 803, New York, NY 10001 USA.
  5. Sponsor/Administrator: The Sponsor of the Contest is Brandemix, Inc., 1270 Broadway, Suite 803, New York, NY 10001 USA.
The Contest is in no way sponsored, endorsed or administered by, or associated with, Pinterest.  You understand that the information you provide will only be used in connection with this Contest.


Saturday, December 19, 2009

Happy Holidays

video

What Would Your CEO Say?



BRANDING AND THE BOTTOM LINE

Branding, just as any other strategic endeavor, is about bottom line business results.
A brand makes attracting new customers and holding onto current customers cheaper.

Employer Branding does the same thing. It makes attracting talent cheaper and inspires turnover-cutting loyalty. Suddenly HR looks like a moneymaker.

So what would your CEO say to that?
“Why does our company need more than one brand?”

The answer, of course, is that you don’t.

The finer points of how the brand is communicated obviously differs from consumers to employees, as do the specific value propositions, but the core of the brand does not. It’s the still the same personality, the same voice, the same values.

HR is merely one of many stakeholders in an organization’s overall brand. It’s their role to communicate the brand in a compelling way to current and potential employees. Similarly, the CFO’s role as a brand stakeholder is to communicate the brand to the financial community. Marketing communicates the brand to consumers. PR communicates the brand to the media. But you never hear terms like “financial brand,” or “PR brand.”

Does HR really need its own term for this responsibility? I can deal with it if you can, so long as we don’t lose sight of the fact that it refers back to the same brand that everyone else in the company is talking about.

If everyone is striving for profitability then having just one brand is only natural. Just ask Phil Knight or Steve Jobs. Nike and Apple, two of the most desirable places to work, don’t do “employer branding.” They don’t have to. Their brands are so well integrated throughout every department that employees and consumers alike are attracted magnetically.

Whether you call it employer branding, employment branding, or just plain branding, your CEO still only wants to know how it can save money or make money for the company.

For more perspective, call BRANDEMiX.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Who Wants to Work for Tiger?

Recruiting through Disaster- 7 Ways to Improve Your Employer Brand.


Maybe your firm was recently rescued from the abyss by the US government. Perhaps your CEO was photographed having breakfast with Bernie Madoff. Or your boss, one of greatest sports figures who ever lived, the face of your brand, has been caught playing in cars and courses he doesn’t belong in.

As your best laid recruiting plans crumble, current employees might linger longer at interview lunches and critical openings go unfilled. The open EXIT door seems to beckon even you.

But don’t despair. Though your task may seem impossible, armed with a plan, you can assuage a publicity crisis and accomplish recruiting objectives with a bit of skill, planning and diligence.

Here are 7 things you do:

1. Be honest and authentic. The chances are, it was a lack of honesty in the first place that got your organization in the mess, so now it’s time to come clean. Be candid and transparent about your situation and you’ll have a good shot at earning back the trust with current and potential employees.

2. Hold town halls, focus groups and monitor web chatter. The conversation is happening around you so get in on it. Take two Advil and get a firm grasp of exactly what potential and current employees think of your company and see what the damage really is.

3. Dust off your employer value proposition. Get back to the basics of communicating your fundamental differentiator as an employer. Theoretically, your intrinsic value as an employer is still intact so take the focus away from ancillary distractions and drive home your core value proposition through recent actions and examples.

4. Fight the battle on your own turf. Ubiquitous social networks mean more opportunities for social humiliation. Armed with insight, mitigate the issue by providing details and counterpoint on your website or vanity landing page and post comments and links to drive traffic to that page.

5. Revisit your workforce plans. One positive to situations like this, is that it gives you carte blanche to rethink certain strategies or processes. Do you still want to hire the type of employees you did 2 months ago? This could be an opportunity to bring in new blood and grow in directions you never before considered.

6. Refresh all your online recruitment messaging. Last week’s job postings won’t help you through yesterday’s disaster. Build brand equity quickly and inexpensively with current messaging that show people you know what they’re thinking, and what you think about it. The opportunity for swift change is the beauty of our digital world.

7. Create and promote an employee recognition program. Recognize and publicize the talent you have, and show the world that human capital still remains your strongest asset. Featured professionals will appreciate the kudos and can become the face of your recruiting efforts, featured in blogs, videos and printed materials. Potential recruits will be reminded of the brain pool they have an opportunity to be part of.

While we can’t always plan for future disasters, a properly executed disaster recruiting “plan-in-the-can” when your Tiger tanks is as easy as 1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8.

8. Call BRANDEMiX

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Keep It Simple Stupid.


Believe it or not, branding is supposed to make things easier…for everyone.

"What has become the science of pontification was once the art of simplification."


Remember that a brand is really just a shortcut. When we see a logo, we can make assumptions about the product that bares it. If you don’t know anything about aspect ratio or refresh rate you can just buy a Sony television because you know it will be quality. If you don’t want to spend your weekend comparing the price of Frosted Flakes at every grocer in town, you can just go to Wal-mart because you know they’ll have the lowest prices anyway.

Imagine a world with no brands and only products. You’d have to laboriously balance the pluses and minuses of every product for every purchase. You could have no preconceptions or expectations. You could make no assumptions. You’d have analysis paralysis every time you went to the deli.

Sadly, this is what job-hunting feels like a lot of times. You’re forced to form an opinion of a company based solely on the few tangible benefits listed in a job posting. A brand should replace this process of rationalizing and help create an emotional connection (or not) with the company and the culture.

However, too often employer branding is used as just another rational benefit – another “plus” on the old strengths vs weaknesses scale. Your employer brand is not just another reason to believe. It’s the reason to believe. It’s the higher order that supersedes all the rational benefits. So if you spent the time, money and effort to develop a brand, but continue to base all your communications around the same old rational benefits, then you’re spinning your wheels.

Google’s recruitment Youtube video says nothing of pay or benefits – it talks more about the cafeteria and the culture. This is with good reason – for many technical positions, Google pays less than Microsoft does, but Google is the heart’s desire for young engineers not Microsoft. Google has taken the side-by-side comparison out of the equation replaced it with brand.

Or, look at the recruitment ads for Southwest Airlines, one of the strongest employer brands. Absent are the bulleted lists of good reasons to join the company or an “about us” paragraph touting the company’s prestigious history. Instead they seduce you with brand identity.

You’re brand should take the guesswork out of joining your company. It should let people put away the scale and listen to their gut. Just as shopping for clothes is as much emotional as it is rational, so too is shopping for a job. So allow your brand to pull its weight. Allow it to make things easier for jobseekers. Allow it to simplify your communications. Allow it to simplify your recruiting strategy. And if you don’t have a brand, call BRANDEMiX.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Going Global with Marylou Ponzi Kay of Benetton USA

HR Directors Work Hard to Create Global Companies

Marylou Ponzi Kay, Human Resources Director for Benetton USA, has her hands full. Literally.

As you can see, she's holding the Employer Branding Workbook from BRANDEMiX's recent SHRM workshop on Employer Branding.

In the room with Ponzi Kay during the HR Connections gathering, which is sponsored by the University of Miami’s School of Business and Aflac, were representatives of German, French, Finnish, American, British, Swiss and Japanese companies. Each, according to their human resrouces executives, is finding its way in balancing the need to preserve its core values, which are often rooted in culture, and becoming truly global, which can work at odds with those efforts.

Read the full article here.

Ask for your own BRANDEMiX workshop on Employer Branding here.

Employee Engagement, the Dilbert View



Friday, November 20, 2009

Intranet 3.0

Below from IBF's Intranet Life blog and Globally Local, by Jane McConnell, author of Global Intranet Trends for 2010.
The changing demographics in the workplace (brain drain) and heighted focus on worker efficiency is bringing the corporate intranet into the spotlight.
From my trusted sources comes a few tales of how companies are breaking down the borders between internal and external communications, along with attaching the ROI to such. Lastly, trends to look out for.

Sun: Realizing the intranet of the future

Known as Project 90/10, Sun is turning over ownership of the intranet to employees (that's the 90 percent) instead of corporate communications (which will become the 10 percent). The intranet, they say, will become an aggregation point like a Netvibes or iGoogle page on the Web. The borders between internal and external are coming down too: Employees will be able to aggregate external content such as Facebook alongside internal content such as corporate news.

For Sun, it's all about orienting the intranet toward the employee of the future. "The type of employee we'll be seeing in five years, and are already seeing a lot of today, will be very familiar with social tools. They will want to get corporate news but also to share and play, to have fun and connect," says McKenzie. Social media are at the heart of this vision, but where most companies struggle to come up with meaningful measures of ROI, Sun is introducing the Community Equity tool. This tracks both the level of participation and the value of contributions by employees. "It will be a powerful tool for us," he adds. "For example, as a manager deciding who to promote, I can see who is contributing and participating.

Nissan: Democratizing communication

At Nissan, the intranet is a central hub providing employees with access to the information and tools to do their jobs-from workflow and processes to project management and virtual meetings. The vision for Nissan's intranet is straightforward: to enable employees to connect and engage in a dialogue. "I think that without the intranet it would be almost impossible to run the organization," says Simon Sproule, corporate vice president of global communication.

Nissan's internal social network, N-Square, is bringing fundamental changes to the way of working at Nissan by breaking down hierarchical, functional and regional barriers. Interactions that would not have happened previously-such as dialogue between senior executives and employees, or across functions--are now happening in a way that employees are comfortable with and find convenient.

"In the same way that you may watch the inauguration of Obama on CNN and then go and visit other news sites and blogs to get a different perspective, so internal communications needs to become a trusted brand within the company," says Sproule. He sees the internal communication brand, N-Com, not as being in competition with the democratized dissemination of information via employee blogs and profiles, but as adding value by providing a timely, relevant and trusted news service.

The Global Intranet Trends for 2010 report is subtitled ‘Towards the workplace web’. This phrase reflects what is happening today in intranets around the world as organizations are positioning the intranet as the entry point into the organization’s ensemble of information, applications, collaboration and communication tools.

More key stakeholders getting involved

The intranet is starting to be “business as usual” and thereby involving more high-level stakeholders in the organization. The ownership model is slowly moving away from the single owner model (usually communication). Forty percent of the organizations do still have this model but another 30 percent have a co-owner model where two or three functions share ownership.

The third model, which is cross-organizational with all major functions and divisions represented, exists in 15 percent. Although used less than the first two models, it is more often found in organizations with mature intranets

Senior management increasing involvement

Approximately one third of the organizations have a high-level intranet Steering Committee. The senior level presence on this body has increased over the last year reaching 60 percent, with middle management and operational management decreasing slightly. This trend has continued since 2007 when the senior level presence was around 35 percent.

The individual voice emerging

There are a number of indicators showing that the employee voice is being given some room in the intranet. Two examples:

“Commenting on official content” such as letting employees publish comments and questions about articles written by management is “in general use” in 20 percent of the organizations. Another 20 percent are testing it or have it “in some parts” of their organization.

Internal social network applications (similar to Facebook or Linkedin) are not often found to be “in general use throughout the organization”. However they are likely to increase as 30 percent of the organizations are currently testing or “using in some parts”.

Social media benefits appearing

Twenty-five to 30 percent of organizations that have already implemented some form of social media have experienced 3 general benefits: increased employee engagement, more effective knowledge sharing, and better-informed employees. Stories “from the front lines” are shared in the report.

Some measurement

A few organizations have begun to measure the impact of social media and although the examples are rare in number, they provide insight on how the pioneers are making social media part of business as usual.

Social media concerns shifting

Concerns are changing as organizations gain experience. Doubts are considerably lower about the relevance of social media to business needs, senior management hesitancy and employees wasting their time. At the same time there is a higher degree of concern about two things: the difficulty of finding information and potential user resistance.

Hype and risks of disillusionment

Organizations in the planning stages for social media usage have very high expectations for benefits. Their expectations are far greater than what the “implementers” have seen so far. There seems to be a potential risk of disappointment.

Intranets in real-time

Technologies such as presence indicators, instant messaging and web conferencing are found more frequently the more mature intranets. Some organizations feel they have reached a level of "optimization" for certain real-time technologies.

Intranets being extended to where the people are

Intranets are leaving the workplace, or rather the workplace is being extended to where the people are. People do not need to be in the office in front of a computer to be able to use the intranet. Home access is possible in over one third of the organizations and smart phone access is just starting.

Some intranets have services for smart phones today, but the vast majority do not. However, twenty-five percent of the organizations in the survey say they are in the planning stages of making the intranet accessible through smart phones and PDAs.

BRANDING your Intranet with BRANDEMiX
All signs are pointing to the intranet as being a critical hub in the dialogue, as opposed to a repository of dated information and downloadable forms. The opportunity for branding and alignment of business strategy with human capital presents a myriad of ways we can make an sustainable impact in 2010.

Lets get planning

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Brand vs Employer Brand


Here’s the first thing you need to know: There’s no such thing as an employer brand.

In reality, your company only gets to have one brand. It’s not as if you can have a consumer brand that targets consumers, an employer brand that targets employees, an investor brand that targets investors, and a vendor brand that targets vendors. You can’t simply build a different brand with a different meaning for each audience.

The reason? No one thinks that way. You only get one reputation. We don’t isolate our opinion of a company as an employer from our opinion of it as a product maker or service provider. We balance everything we know about a company and determine one attitude towards it. Wal-mart’s reputation as an employer doesn’t just hurt its talent acquisition; it deters some people from shopping there. Conversely, Oldsmobile’s inability to create desirable cars didn’t just hurt its sales figures; it made attracting top engineering talent very difficult.

Not surprisingly, employee loyalty and customer loyalty are highly correlated. It only makes sense to think of the brand holistically.

* Studies show a high correlation between consumers’ admiration for a company’s product and their willingness to work for that company and vice versa.

Since there’s only one brand for many targets, every department from HR to PR is thus a stakeholder in your brand. They all have a responsibility to hold up their part of your company’s reputation and their cohesion is critical. We can’t have the HR people scurrying around building a brand that clashes with what the marketing people or the PR people are doing.

The term “employer brand” merely speaks to HR’s responsibility as a stakeholder for the overall brand. HR owns the task of conveying the brand in a compelling way to the labor market.

It’s important to remember that your brand already exists. Employer branding is not about starting from scratch – trying to conjure up some positioning that you think employees will find engaging. You already have a culture, a vision, and values (and they’re all already being communicated by other departments). Your employees already have a certain attitude towards the company. Jobseekers already have preconceptions. The first step is simply to figure out what these things really are. A little hint for you … it’s not what’s written on your website.

** For help, BRANDEMiX is here.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

The Biggest Winner- Social Movements Media


As further evidence that brands are becoming social movements, the Wall Street Journal reported this week that NBC plans to produce more programming that promotes a specific cause.

Shows like “The Biggest Loser” that espouse social causes have become the lone bright spot in NBC’s otherwise struggling portfolio. Their success is not surprising -- there’s high demand for social meaning today, and we’re looking for it in our purchases, our jobs, and now our entertainment.

Our growing fascination with these shows is another indication that social causes now play an important role in the makeup of Americans’ identities. What you believe in is becoming as important as what you drive in terms of showing others who you are, and brands are now trying to foster relationships in that way.

In fact, growing their viewer base was not actually NBC’s primary motive. Instead, they hypothesized that socially-charged programming would help advertisers connect with consumers on a deeper level. Today, media that work to form an emotional bond between brand and consumer (rather than just providing a forum) command higher profit margins and have thus become the Holy Grail of ad sales.

This trend will only make brands look more like social movements, and will put an even higher premium on having intrinsic social meaning for your brand (or at least a social agenda).

This may or may not be good news for nonprofits. Certainly, the growing importance of social issues in our lives is positive, however this also illustrates the encroachment of consumer brands on the business of nonprofits. Companies selling widgets are building brands the way NPO’s ought to be: using causes as a rallying cry for a loyal brand culture. The organizations that actually know how to “do good” need to seize this opportunity.

If NPO’s don’t build strong, movement-like brands, Americans’ awareness and understanding of what they do could become diminished in favor of for-profit models of involvement.

The opportunity may be found in forming partnerships with the media companies. In order for networks like NBC to retain credibility with consumers as their cause-related programming becomes mainstream, they’ll most likely need to partner with nonprofits that already have brand equity with that particular cause. A partnership of this sort entrenches a nonprofit within the program long before any advertisers get involved, plus the media company gets kudos for getting involved with a nonprofit.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Would Your Husband Marry You Again?


This week’s post was inspired by Dan and Chip Heath’s “Made To Stick” column in this month’s Fast Company. The Heath brothers are calling for “an arms race of goodness -- a generation of companies that compete on real emotion rather than stick-on sentiments.”

The column covers an issue in branding that has long been a topic of discontent for me. Creating an emotional bond with customers is not a new idea – Palmolive was doing it in 1921 when they asked housewives “would your husband marry you again?” And yet, for the majority of our dynamic consumer landscape, the approach to branding hasn’t changed in a century.

We’re still trying to attach product attributes to random emotions without any substance behind it. Is there any reason to believe Calvin Klein cologne makes women lose their inhibitions? Is there any reason to believe Citizen watches make you “unstoppable?” Is there any reason to believe Coors Light “tastes colder” and is thus more refreshing than other beers? The answer of course is no – and consumers are paying less and less attention as a result.

Back in the day, Palmolive actually struck a chord with women because no other dish soaps were claiming that they softened your hands. But today, in every sector, there’s at least 3 competitors making the same claim. Owning a product attribute is almost impossible now, but that hasn’t stopped marketers from trying.

So how do we create an emotional bond now? How about actually meaning what we say? How about brands walk the walk for once? If you’re the cereal brand that gives kids the energy they need to learn at school then start a campaign for in-school nutrition or to stop the cutting of phys-ed programs. If you’re the jewelry brand that empowers women to take what they want in life, then do a campaign about your program to educate women in developing countries.

To create a social movement around your brand, “meaning it” is critical. We’ve already discussed Gen-Y’s desire to align with brands with built-in social meaning, and as word-of-mouth becomes marketing’s gold standard, only brands that give people something real to talk about will be heard.

Some brands are catching on: Toms Shoes for example has “doing good” built into their business model by donating a pair of shoes to kids in developing countries for every pair they sell. Consumer brands are now encroaching on the business of non-profits in order to build their brands. Conversely, non-profits are “doing good,” but very few of them pay any attention branding. What if brands competed on how much good they do rather than how many GRP’s they run in prime-time?

The article mentions one last critical aspect of social movement marketing. Actually standing for something, makes employees engage with your brand. When you walk the walk, you define a strong, internal culture for your organization, which ultimately and inevitably leads to a strong, customer culture for your brand.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Udorse It, You Bought It!


I'm thrilled to introduce a special guest posting this week from writer and advertising illuminato Terry Selucky. Her work has been featured throughout the NY lit scene, most recently in New York Magazine. Below Terry shares insights into a new social media branding tool called Udorse. It's a creative attempt to help brands leverage word-of-mouth in creating a movement. It's a thought-provoking way of putting the onus on consumers to propel your movement.
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In 1994, when NPR’s All Things Considered broadcast an April Fool’s Day segment stating that corporations such as Pepsi, KFC, Apple and Gap would give a lifetime 10% discount to any teenager who would tattoo his or her ear with a corporate logo, droves of young people called in to find out how they could sign up. Those who knew better laughed.

But 15 years after the hoax, as we’re just beginning to settle into the digital age, Udorse.com has created the social media equivalent of a tattooed ear. By tagging certain items on photos throughout personal pages online, an individual can share favorite brands and, when tagging Udorse’s partners, earn money with each Udorsement. The tagger has the option to either donate his or her reward earnings to a favorite charity or have them deposited directly into a PayPal account.

Udorse.com, a company backed by Founders Fund and featured at TechCrunch50, is a direct response to the individual’s increasing desire—and ability—to ignore traditional advertising. DVR has allowed viewers to skip TV spots; pop-up blockers prohibit unwanted messages. Now, more than ever, consumers are filtering through the flotsam to get to products that are useful, sexy and recommended by someone they trust. But will Udorse catch on with advertising-elusive, tech-savvy consumers?

Probably not the way the company envisions, or hopes. Udorse claims to “empower each of us to endorse the items and places in our photos that we want to help support, and share with our friends.” That’s true, and well-spun. And Gen X may try it out, but while many successful brands are proudly touted as part of one’s identity, Gen Y is too skeptical to buy into a program that could so easily be seen as “selling out.”

It’s a logical leap forward in consumer-driven advertising, but it will only survive if people find it useful—or if advertisers find it profitable. Most likely, other companies are going to create better, more palatable versions of the same idea. And in the meantime, finding the function and form of your company remains top priority.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Employee Communications

Gartner Says More Tweets Coming to Company Communications

Are your internal communications keeping up with the times? BRANDEMiX can help!

Gartner Highlights Four Ways in Which Enterprises Are Using Twitter

By 2011, Enterprise Microblogging Will Be a Standard Feature on 80 Percent of Social Software Platforms

As businesses struggle to consider the uses of microblogging platforms such as Twitter in the workplace, Gartner, Inc. has highlighted the four ways in which organizations are using Twitter.

"Despite the fact that Twitter is primarily aimed at individual users in the consumer market, many of those individuals work for companies and 'tweet' about business issues, leading businesses to explore how they could best use it," said Jeffrey Mann, research vice president at Gartner.

"In general, Twitter usage by employees should be covered by existing Web participation guidelines," Mr. Mann said. "As Twitter is a public forum, employees should understand the limits of what is acceptable and desirable. It is good practice to remind employees that the policies already in place apply to this new communication forum, as well. If organizations have not defined a public Web participation policy, they should do so as quickly as possible."

Twitter allows users to post short, 140 character updates, on what they are doing right now. Users distribute quick thoughts, news and ideas, and this broadcast element of Twitter has led this type of service to be called microblogging, as each individual message (called a "tweet") can be considered a very small blog post. Users select other "Twitterers" to follow or receive their messages in close to real time.

Gartner analysts predict that by 2011, enterprise microblogging will be a standard feature of 80 percent of social software platforms on the market. While other consumer microblogging platforms exist (such as Plurk, Jaiku, and Identi.ca), Twitter is the most popular.

Twitter is primarily aimed at individuals, so it is not imperative for every corporation to be actively participating at an official level. However, the popular impact of microblogging is leading many companies to explore how they could use it. In addition to the individual use of Twitter, Gartner has identified four different ways in which companies are making use of the Twitter application: direct, indirect, internal, and signaling.

Direct — The company uses Twitter as a marketing or public relations channel
Many companies have established Twitter identities as part of their corporate communications strategies, much like corporate blogs. They Tweet about corporate accomplishments, distributing links to press releases or promotional Web sites, and respond to other Twitterers' comments about the brand. Gartner maintains that this approach should be used with caution because uninteresting or self-serving Tweets could hinder the brand image as much as it could help. Responding to comments can be particularly risky, as the anonymous nature of Twitter can easily descend into a negative spiral. Gartner recommends that at a minimum, companies should register Twitter IDs for their major brand names to prevent others claiming them and using them inappropriately.

Indirect — The company's employees use Twitter to enhance and extend their personal reputations, thereby enhancing the company's reputation
Good Twitterers enhance their personal reputation by saying clever, interesting things, attracting many followers who go on to read their blogs. As people enhance their personal brands, some of this inevitably rubs off on their employers. Twitter provides a way of raising the profile of both individuals and the organizations they work for, which elevates these companies that want to be seen to employ influential leaders.

Internal — Employees use the platform to communicate about what they are doing, projects they are working on and ideas that occur to them
In most cases, Gartner does not recommend using Twitter or any other consumer microblogging service in this way, because there is no guarantee of security. It is crucial that employees understand the limitations of the platform and never discuss confidential matters, because as a seemingly innocuous Tweet about going to see a particular client can tip off a competitor. Other providers, such as Yammer and Present.ly, provide Twitter-like functions targeted at enterprise microblogging with more security and corporate control.

Inbound Signaling
Twitter streams provide a rich source of information about what customers, competitors and others are saying about a company. Search tools like search.twitter.com or the twhirl application can scan for references to particular company or product names. Savvy companies use these signals to get early warnings of problems and collect feedback about product issues and new product ideas.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Lights Out Branding


I stumbled into a brilliant Social Movement Marketing case study at Mashable’s Summer of Social Good Conference last week. Andy Ridley, the executive director of Earth Hour, presented an inspiring case study of the work his organization (WWF) has been doing.

Previously I’ve discussed how successful social movements are able to balance a seemingly contradictory dynamic: They empower individuals by forming one collective identity. Followers of a movement join a group of many to achieve personal betterment; the way mackerel form schools to increase the chances of survival for each individual fish.

Abstruse as this may be, Earth Hour is a perfect example of how to work this balance in the cause world.

You may have participated in Earth Hour without even knowing it. In Sydney, Australia in 2007, Earth Hour convinced 2 million people to shut off their lights for an hour at the same time. The stunt has now become an annual global event that, in 2009 saw 4,000 cities and 1 billion people participate. (Watch a great video about it here.)

For one organization to inspire one fifth of the planet to act in unison, they needed for all participants to bear the responsibility of promoting the movement. Earth Hour’s brand, manifested in its culture of joy, communion, and hope, transcends geography, nationality, and class. However, it was Earth Hour’s ability to let people personalize the brand that really generated a movement.

People took those core virtues of joy, communion, and hope and ran with them. Some people organized candlelit beer pong, some organized rock concerts, some hosted dinner parties, some had bon fires, and the ideas went on and on. From Israel to Iowa, people took ownership of the movement, but everything remained in the context of the culture of Earth Hour.

However, we must recognize that this wasn’t the luck of the draw. Earth Hour set out to encourage people to personalize the brand or movement. They offered access to download any of the promotional creative work to use as templates, created a forum for people to share materials they had created on their own, and made available all of the social networking tools necessary for people to the reins of the movement.

Brands must offer both the collective identity and the personal reason to believe. Earth Hour mastered both and changed the world, at least for 60 minutes. As the media landscape changes to favor individuals, relinquishing brand ownership to the people will inevitably be necessary…all we can do now is set the context.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Fiesta Time!


It’s nice to see the theory of Social Movement Marketing get some national exposure…too bad it had to come from the Ford Motor Co. Though Ford (and GM for that matter) have consistently botched their attempts to sell cars that American youths relate to, Ford has nailed it this time…at least from a marketing standpoint.

To market their new Fiesta model, a sub-compact for urban youths, Ford is running a campaign called the Ford Fiesta Movement. Sound familiar? Rather than spending $30 million dollars cramming TV spots into NFL games, which they usually do, Ford recruited 100 “agents” to spend 6 months with the car and to use social media to tell EVERYONE about it.

These Fiesta agents get a free car, free insurance, free gas, and national exposure for 6 months. Each of the 100 agents embodies what the Fiesta brand wants to be: Young, urban, artsy, funky, curious, active, and most importantly, savvy in social media. In return for living the Fiesta life for half a year, these agents are charged with essentially tweeting this car into pop-culture lore.

The Fiesta movement’s website aggregates all of the agents’ tweets, pics, flics, vids, blogs, nings, and any other contemporary monosyllabic networking tool into one, well organized place where you can learn everything you need to know about the Ford Fiesta culture.

Perhaps most surprising is that Ford was able to resist making the campaign egregiously self-serving. Understanding that product information doesn’t start social movements, Ford gave the agents specific missions to accomplish (with their Fiesta at their side) that focus on community service, activism, and culture. They’re using these 100 agents to be the poster children for an aspirational urban identity, of which the Fiesta is a small but necessary part.

This is, of course, fundamentally how social movements work. They define a vivid collective identity (active, multi cultural, urban youths), empower charismatic leaders (the agents), and spread influence through stories (missions) and word-of-mouth (social media).

Traditionally, social movements have relied on word-of-mouth because buying TV spots was far too expensive. Now, thanks to social media, word-of-mouth has become what TV used to be: the most influential means of communication, and marketers are looking to own that too.

Consumer brands may put together impressive campaigns like the Fiesta movement, but they can’t own it – nonprofits have an equal opportunity to push influence in social media. A nonprofit could easily find young activists (start with your volunteers) to be agents for a cause. For example, put 50 young, multi-ethnic, urbanites on the street with a cheap video camera, have them film discriminations they come across in daily life, put it in an online documentary, promote it on Twitter, and you’ll get more national attention than 6-months worth of highway billboards would get you.

For help with your social media strategy call BRANDEMiX.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Sell The Culture, Not the Cause!


Today, Geoff brings some interesting comparisons to branding and summer tans.


In consumer marketing there’s a term called “selling the category.” For example, if your company sells spray-tan and you run an ad that says “look like George Hamilton all year,” you would be selling the category – you’re only convincing consumers of their need to buy spray-tan in general, but not your particular brand. Unless you’re the market-share leader, selling the category is not a good practice because it benefits the competition as much (or more) as it benefits you.

I’m adapting the term for the nonprofit world: selling the cause. A lot of nonprofits do this. They convince people of the general importance of a cause, but say nothing specific about their organization to position it as the solution. However noble it may be, this doesn’t help your organization build “market share” or brand equity.

It’s becoming increasingly important to avoid just selling the cause. There are more organizations than ever – 60% of nonprofits are less than 30 years old. In every single cause category the competition is getting steeper for increasingly fewer available dollars. Chances are, your nonprofit is not the biggest in the category, in which case you have to make a case for yourself not your cause.

That’s where brand comes in.

Just as consumers buy brands for the culture not just the product, people join social movements for the culture not just the cause. Whether it’s the hipster movement of the 60’s or today’s straight-edge movement, they all have a distinct culture in addition to a specific social or political agenda, because it’s that which magnetically attracts followers. The cause provides all of the tangible reasons to join a movement, but the culture provides the ultimate emotional impetus to act.

The same goes for nonprofits. They’re all based on fighting for a cause, but the ones with the most culture have the strongest brands, which is manifested in more donations, volunteers, and more loyal employees.

NPR has done a great job of building a magnetic culture. They’ve built a steady, unapologetic culture of highly educated people who value long-style, in-depth reporting and they’ve sold this culture through social media. They stopped asking for money “because public radio is important” and started defining a movement of young, thought-leaders who are growing up to discover that they’re dissatisfied with the state of journalism today.

With social media as pervasive as it is today, communications is now actually the easy part. The hard part is defining a culture that’s unique and making a dedication to selling it rather than the cause.

For help defining your culture, call BRANDEMiX.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Activate Your Bandit.

Ingrid Newkirk, president of PETA, said, “thinkers may prepare revolutions, but bandits must carry them out.” Her speech is often dripping with social movement metaphors – she clearly recognizes the importance of turning boardroom theory into action.

Since your brand is the personality of your organization, it’s that which is responsible for inspiring action. It cannot be merely an intellectual endeavor; it must be able to move people on the ground level.

For consumer brands, this simply means convincing people to buy products, but the cause world is more difficult. Indulgence is an easier sell than benevolence. Inherently, a non-profit’s ultimate goal is to start a social movement: getting people to come together to fight for a cause. But more often it’s the consumer brands that have defined cultures.

Which is easier to describe: a Harley owner or a YMCA volunteer? Is there a reason one has to be more distinct than the other?

Ingrid Newkirk would say no. In fact she’s built a powerful non-profit brand, rife with personality and culture. Whether you support their tactics or not, you could describe a PETA activist to a “t”… it probably involves a can of paint.

PETA has achieved social movement status (2 million members) because its brand incorporates all the critical aspects of social movements as discussed in my first post:

1. A common identity: It’s not merely belief in a common cause (that there are no dominant species) that brings PETA members together, but more so that they share core values or personality traits: veganism, extremism, and risk taking.

2. Rituals or codes: PETA members rally around a very clear credo of behavior: “direct action.” Defining a code of behavior is a natural way to build a culture around a cause, which social movements have used forever (for example see nonviolent resistance).

3. Social interaction: PETA has always forced word-of-mouth through controversial action. This ad is a perfect example.
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Finding celebrities to support a cause is on every non-profit’s agenda, but PETA gets them naked. That is to say, they stay true to their brand, and infuse their ads with controversy. If a given celebrity won’t take the risk, then he/she wouldn’t fit the brand anyway.

PETA takes controversy to an extreme, but without a strong opinion people will have no reason to talk about your organization. Newkirk also said, “we’re the biggest group because we succeed in getting attention.” PETA didn’t start as the only animal cruelty group and they’re not the only one now, but they succeed to a higher degree because they create word-of-mouth. They use celebrities for good (Pam Anderson) and bad (Michael Vick) to force themselves into everyday culture.

4. Emblematic event: PETA emerged on the national scene in 1981 when they had a scientist arrested for experimenting on monkeys in a lab in Silver Spring, MD. The controversy ultimately ended up in the Supreme Court where an amendment to the animal welfare act was made. It was then that PETA’s culture of national attention and dedication to “direct action” were conceived.

5. Voice of leadership: Clearly Newkirk has worked hard to perpetuate the culture that has made PETA such a success.

If you can piece these elements together you stand an excellent chance of creating a brand that can truly move people on the ground level. For help taking your brand out of the boardroom and into the streets check out BRANDEMiX.

Friday, July 31, 2009

Social Recruiting Presentation

Here's an excerpt from my recent Meet-Up on Social Recruiting- How to make the most of your message, media and meager budget.

Yes, the room is dark, No you can't see the slides but shoot me an email and I'll send you the presentation. Or, I can come by and present just for you.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Activate Their Little Devil

Another Great one from Geoff

The super-ego is the part of our psychological makeup that’s responsible for making you behave in a socially acceptable manor. While your id plays the role of the devil on your shoulder, begging you to do whatever your little heart desires, your superego works to override those urges. It keeps you from acting on impulse. It’s the part of your brain that says “no” when your id tells you to burp in a nice restaurant.

Unfortunately, the superego is also the enemy to those of us in the marketing profession. Giving people all the logical reasons to do something, regardless of how poignant they may be, will only engage the part of our brains that works to PREVENT action.

In the consumer world, creating an emotional urge to buy is the gold standard. If consumers were analytical we wouldn’t have terms like “retail therapy” and no one would drive a Scion.

Social movements don’t develop because people start balancing the pros and cons of revolting against an injustice. Movements are described with words like “fever” and “momentum.” They’re collective emotional outbursts not premeditated events.

Furthermore, it’s been proved that people are more likely to donate money (and more of it) when they’re in an emotional state of mind. There’s a great case study on the subject as described in the book Made To Stick written by Chip and Dan Heath.

Researchers from Carnegie Mellon conducted a test in which they sent out two versions of a donation request letter to a pool of respondents. The first version of the letter showcased statistics about problems facing children in Africa similar to: “more than 11 million people in Ethiopia need immediate food assistance.” The second version of the letter focused on one young girl. “Any money you donate will go to Rokia, a 7-year old girl from Mali. She is desperately poor and faces the threat of severe hunger.”

The people who got the letter about Rokia donated twice as much money as those who received the other letter did. It’s been well documented that people identify more with an individual than an indeterminate problem, but what’s particularly interesting about this case is what the researchers did next. They tested a third letter that combined the statistics AND the personal story and found that the letter about just Rokia still outperformed the combined letter by a factor of 2.

The researchers theorized that when people are fed statistics they are put in an analytical state of mind and are thus less likely to act emotionally. So they conducted the study once again. This time, they primed the respondents to think analytically before reading the letter by asking them to do math problems. And amazingly, the average gift of those who read the Rokia letter was cut in half!

People who think analytically are dramatically less likely to chip in than those who are emotionally activated. And yet we still see so many communications that force people into that kind of thinking.

People don’t respond to abstract, they respond to people. That’s why social movements work. That’s why we hate dealing with employees who act like robots. It’s always tempting to build a case based on all the “right reasons” that people should donate, volunteer, or contribute in some way, but we must put those aside to appeal to the real reason they do. Empathy is an emotion all humans share – It’s just a matter of finding it more often.

For help activating people’s emotional side contact BRANDEMiX.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Social Media Presentation

This would have made a great lead-in to my recent Social Recruiting Meet-Up, although it might have sucked up the whole 10 minutes. Great job to the authors and designers.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

When Social Movements go Off Brand


I’ve spent a lot of time advocating that a brand is not merely a marketing device. It’s not a spectre that operates in some ancillary business silo. It’s the culture of an organization. It’s the style, temperament, and personality of a collective – whether it’s a social movement or a non-profit.

That is, of course, where the whole idea behind SMM came from in the first place. Building and selling culture is what takes ordinary business-to-consumer relationships to a higher order of collective action.

I was reminded recently, as I stumbled upon I book I read for a college class about America in the 1960’s, what happens when a movement goes “off brand.” That is, when an organization or cause abandons its culture and personality.

The Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), pronounced “snick,” was one of the most influential organizations in the American Civil Rights Movement. Originally, it started as a series of student-led meetings in North Carolina, but soon got the attention of white, liberal students in the Northeast who joined the cause.

SNCC organized “sit-ins,” “freedom rides,” and other protests designed to rebel against segregation in a non-violent way. In addition to their opposition to violence, SNCC has another unique aspect to its culture. Leadership and decision-making were democratic, not top-down. All decisions required consensus and meetings often lasted over 6 hours while everyone voiced their opinions.

It only made sense to founders like Ella Baker that a movement for the people should have an organizational structure owned by the people. It may have been inefficient, but supporters were passionate and it was certainly “on brand.”

However, things changed – Stokely Carmichael became chairman of SNCC. He was closely aligned with the Black Panthers and a major proponent of using violence. Some SNCC leaders supported Carmichael and he was able to push through some violent agendas. As these agendas progressed, Carmichael even changed the name of the organization to remove the word “non-violent” and SNCC became the Student National Coordinating Committee.

As Carmichael took SNCC out of the mainstream movement and into the radical violent one, a major rift developed within SNCC, and not surprisingly, the organizational structure became more top-down and autocratic. Carmichael expelled all white employees and volunteers, many of whom had helped start the movement. By the late 60’s SNCC had become almost entirely ineffective and by the 70’s it was all but extinct.

I think SNCC is a great example to explore because it’s both an organization and a movement. Culture is what binds a movement, and when it’s neglected, the fallout is potent enough to derail an organization with rich history and incredible popularity.

When an organization takes on a strategy that is so radically off-brand that it must change its name and management style, then you can be sure it’s destined to fail, no matter how trendy it is at the time. In many ways, this case exemplifies the power of brand. It must pervade everything from the name of an organization, to the management style, to the very personality of the people. Without that, no one inside or out, will understand where you’re going or where you’re coming from.

For help finding your organization’s personality, click here.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Thursday, July 9, 2009

The Movement Generation


On a business trip to LA last year, I found myself in the unusual state of having some free time. I sat down at an outdoor table at a pub on the 3rd Street Promenade in Santa Monica. As I sipped my beer, I noticed a group of 10 teenagers hanging out on the street. They walked up and down the block aimlessly – each kid being very careful not to get separated from the group. They looked like a school of fish.

All the while, each kid was frantically texting. Soon enough, kids started coming out of the woodwork, one after another, joining the school of fish. Before I knew it, there were over 30 of these “Millennials” shifting about, dominating the sidewalk.

I don’t remember hanging out in such large groups or inviting that many people to hang out on the sidewalk with me. I just did everything with the same motley, 4-man crew that I still hang out with today.

The next generation of activists, donors, volunteers, and nonprofit entrepreneurs in our country are growing up in a high-touch, ultra personal, socially sensitive, movement culture. Having had wireless connectivity since birth, Millennials are accustomed to spreading ideas quickly and involving as many peers as possible...even if the idea is just “lets go to the movies.” For this generation, Social Movement Marketing will be the norm, and nonprofits need to prepare.

Though it’s popular to lament this generation’s prospects for leadership or to lambaste them for having short attention spans and for having been raised with an “everyone wins” mentality, I think they actually represent a bright future in many ways.

They are the most diverse generation and the most culturally aware. They are the most creative, entrepreneurial generation yet – 8% of them are already making money on the Internet. They are multi-tasking machines who do more in a day than previous generations used to do in a week. William Strauss and Neil Howe call them “the next Great Generation.”

Perhaps even more encouraging is Millennials’ insistence on meaningful work. The importance of money in work has been rated lower by this generation than by any previous. Not surprisingly, they show very little loyalty to their employers as they have no patience for jobs with no social significance. Accordingly, they also show very little loyalty to brands. In fact, the only thing Millennials seem to be loyal to is people.

They see brands less as products and more as a culture of people. The line between consumer and employee is blurring as everyone is just grouped into one dynamic brand culture. This is good news for non-profits since they’re more about people than products by definition. Nonprofits that learn to build culture and create brands that employees and volunteers buy-into and promote will be the marketing gurus of the next generation.

The best way to sell culture is to get your employees and volunteers to start running their traps. They’re not just people working for the organization, they are the culture of your movement so get them to start blogging, Tweeting, and everything else. NPR requires all editorial staff to attend multimedia and social networking training and encourages them to speak up on the Internet as much as possible. How many people in your organization are blogging about your cause?

To get a head-start on building your internal culture check out BRANDEMiX.

Where is Internal Communications within Your Org?