Brand Brilliance: Why Budweiser Won Hearts and Go Daddy Broke Them

shutterstock_375557029

The Super Bowl and NFL season has gone into hibernation once again and we’re left with watching, in my opinion, a very disappointing array of continuing Super Bowl commercials. There were two commercials that really stood out this year in completely different ways. Before we look at them specifically, lets take a quick look at branding.

The idea of branding continues to mystify even the the companies with multi-million dollar ad budgets. In todays marketplace, brands rely on being funny or quirky with regard to how they create their brand communication. It’s a successful tactic in getting noticed, but how do you stay funny – all the time? Even Kevin Heart tells bad Jokes.

When we look long-term, in these times, there comes a point where your brand has to communicate a deeper set of values – brand purpose. If what you say has to align with what you do, then harnessing your entire brand ecosphere becomes a precious strategy that must be executed with careful decision making.

Or not, if you’re Go Daddy.

Breaking Hearts

Go Daddy, who usually has some pretty cool commercials, took a very heart warming concept and made it one of heartbreak. The commercial had all the makings of a heart tugging storyline of lost and found.

But did that happen?

Yes initially, but ultimately NO!

If you happened to have missed it (because it was pulled immediately –rightfully so) the story was about a puppy who had accidently got thrown from its owner’s truck and had to endure some challenging times to be reunited with its owner. The puppy finally makes its way back to the owner who says, “ I’m so glad you made it home because I just sold you on this website I built by Go Daddy.”

Yikes!

That’s just like Nike saying, “Just Don’t Do it,” or Apple saying, “Think Like Everyone Else.”

It’s Anti-branding, and leaves a scar on your brand that will take a long time to heal.

Good Story, Terrible Ending

They took a potentially great storyline, which 99% of it was great, and spoiled it at the end by not understanding how the marketplace really feels about puppies – adorable, cute and cuddly family members.

Not only was it a $4mill mistake (cost of the ad), but a right hook to the rib cage of Go Daddy’s brand.

Brand messaging counts a great deal, and if you don’t protect it at all costs, your brand equity takes a hit – and they didn’t protect theirs. They basically hung their brand over a hungry den of lions – when they didn’t have to.

Brand stories are important because they capture the human essence of what a business stands for. If the human expression of your brand thinks there’s a funny side to puppy mills, you have been asleep for sometime now, or you believe there’s a funny side to everything. That’s a costly gamble.

Winning Hearts

Budweiser’s commercial has a puppy as its star as well. They decided not risk their brand equity, but instead they created a story that transcended their brand.

If you remember, this was their second installment of the initial commercial they ran during the 2014 Super Bowl where a puppy and horse befriend one another. In this installment the puppy escapes the stable and ends up on an adventurous journey back home. The plot thickens when the puppy is cornered by a wolf (hearts pounding), but the horse along with others come to the rescue of the puppy and is finally reunited with his owner.

Predictable?

Maybe so, but humans can relate to that situation thus creating branded value statement(s);

  •  Friendship
  • Compassion
  • Love
  • Resilience
  • Empathy
  • Family

Your brand can’t lose when you hit all of these emotional strings in a one minute commercial spot.

Budweiser’s brand was not only enhanced by this brand storytelling – because of the millions of views, but deepened its brand purpose and ideals with the general populous.

Take-Away

What your brands says matters, but more important is understanding your marketplace and how they feel about certain things. As we have witnessed, funny works, but context is what makes it work. Budweiser understood this. Go Daddy understood this to a point but failed in execution.

Protect and nurture everything about your brand. The more you protect it, the more people will respect you for it. Don’t gamble with your brand – make sure you not only understand the purpose of your message but its context.

Stay Hungry, Hustle Hard!

 

Gary

Don’t Create A Startup, Create A Conspiracy!

shutterstock_324981392

Today it seems like we’re in a churn and burn state of mind. I look across the myriad of start-ups that pop up every second on the second, and begin to think that speed has become a strategy over quality. To a certain degree that strategy works, but it works at the expense of quality and differentiation.

Building on that strategy is not a failure but a bad case of self inflicted poor decisions that starts off as a bad cold and ends ultimately in death. A slow death is better because the pain is negligible – for most people.

Success hinges on investment, and return relies on compounding. The entrepreneurs that would rather go the slow death route are investing time, money and resources that slowly but surely kill off their companies. Those mis-guided decisions compounded over time return nothing, nada and eventually end in despair.

The Entrepreneur’s Mission

 To avoid sickness and hopefully death we must start at the beginning and ask, “Why do entrepreneurs (you) become entrepreneurs?”

After reading Peter Thiel’s book Zero to One, he stated, that the function of an entrepreneur is ‘to conspire to change the world.’ Those are big shoes to fill for anyone to get their mind around. I know that wasn’t my frame of mind when I started my first business. Was it yours – is it yours? I probably would have folded up the tent long ago and trekked back home to a cozy 9-to-5 – which I’ve done before.

On that trek (process) I lost something and gained something else. I learned how to do what everyone else was doing (loss), and simultaneously learned that agreement by large committee is strategic dilution. In other words, if enough piranhas pick at something (self interests) long enough an idea goes from being a living and breathing process to a carcass with only remnants left of the original idea.

Obviously there are exceptions but how many brands keep the process an inspirational journey throughout.

Note: To view articles for entrepreneurs starting a business, click help for entrepreneurs 

Creating A Conspiracy

 I learned that entrepreneurs start businesses because they believe things can be done differently and ultimately better. The art of bringing an idea to market without dilution is why entrepreneurs exist. So yes, conspiracy is a good word to use when talking about entrepreneurs.

No matter whether you’re a mom and pops startup, or the next Facebook, your modus operandi is the same – to create new thinking clear of traditional thinking. When it’s all said and done, a startup’s survival and eventual growth depends on continuous radical (I stop using disruptive) thinking.

This thinking starts with a question that entrepreneurs must ask, what do we do exceptionally well compared to our competition? That’s where the conspiracy starts.

–       Apple

–       GoPro

–       Under Armour

–       AirBnB

–       Facebook

–       Tesla

–       Virgin

–       And many others

These brands did not start as startups. They were(are) conspirators. They dominated a niche with a new way of thinking, and then scaled. Business plan done!

Tom Peters once said, “Why would you plan to be like someone else one year from now today – to be a year behind?”

Amen Tom!

The Takeaway

 Be a trailblazer! To copy is not a form of flattery; it’s a means to a disastrous end. Iteration is good – if it’s significant. Take rational big risks. Don’t be afraid to fall flat on your face – your face will get used to it. There was a point you couldn’t walk, ride a bike… you fell, but you also learned how to advance.

Creating and building a conspiracy takes the same process!

*NOTE: You will notice Daymond & MJ are offering 6 free chapters below from the 3 books. I encourage you to take advantage of the opportunity as we will not offer this forever! A Lot of people get upset when we take an offer down so don’t let that be you ’cause I’m telling you now! :-)

Stay hungry, & HUSTLE HARD!

Gary

What Aspiring Startups And Music Artists Share In Common

shutterstock_371567068

It continues to amaze me that most people feel comfortable in moving in the same current as others. There seems to be a relief in knowing that others are doing the same things. Maybe it’s a mentality of ‘we will all fail or succeed together’ that makes us think in that way.

In business that way of thinking can get you killed – if you are an entrepreneur.

I like to compare the similarities of contrasting business segments. Usually I do so in hopes of finding a similar thread of consistency that propels both segments into success.

Recently, I was thinking how much of a journey to success is similar between aspiring startups and music artists. Both industries seem to operate in a parallel universe where the people with the money are all challenged with investing, or may be even gambling today for a significant return in the future.

Investor vs. Record Label

In most industries there is a person or company that funds the ideas. Record labels fund artists and venture capitalists and investors fund entrepreneurs. Both have limited resources on what they can invest their money in –  which puts extreme pressure on entrepreneurs to develop cool, innovative and useful products and services that deliver significant value to a market segment.

Ideas are cheap, but having a plan, vision and a purpose become prerequisites of those that get funded vs. those who do not. The music artist and the startup have a common responsibility and reality – complete and full differentiation among its competitors. The ‘reality’ part of the equation seems to often elude both, whether it be the music artist or entrepreneur. Many aspiring music artists look in the mirror & tend to give themselves more credit than they deserve, and entrepreneurs fall in that same trap. The judge and jury is the customer and their voice can be heard loud and clear – they either support you with a purchase or they don’t. That’s ultimate metric!

{MJ wrote an article about this here}

To a certain degree, entrepreneurs have a double-sided sword they have to walk; an idea that’s far reaching and maybe too risky versus an idea that’s not innovative enough that gets lost, never to be seen. The closer the entrepreneur and investor are in understanding the realities – the better fit and probably the better outcome will be realized.

 Startups and Music Artists

Initially, the most important thing to know is the approach you will have entering a marketplace and what you want your audience to take away from you.  Kanye West positioned himself as a talented renegade type of artist while Taylor Swift has positioned her self as ‘wholesome’ and ‘Americana.’ Think of it as understanding your brand purpose and building a personality around it. Aspiring startups have the same challenge as music artists – building authenticity and value while increasing their ability to engage with their audience in a unique way.

Though it may be a lot to think about, it’s easier to get that sorted early in your brand development process than to have your target market ‘guessing’ who you are and what you have to offer.

As a music artist has to continually refine their lyrics and several other aspects to their end product, startups are no different. Peter Thiel (PayPal Founder) once said in a video, “ Starting a business is about iteration not laborious research” … he later said, “The latter is cocky and inflexible.”

Translation? Build something, put it out there, and tweak it and repeat until you have a product that is relevant and considerably differentiated from its competitors.

 The Few That Fall Between The Cracks

The very reason you love a particular music artist is the same for brands you love. Great brands don’t always have the coolest products, just like your favorite singer may not have the best voice from a technical standpoint. No matter the physical assets, the brand must communicate certain qualities that embrace the values of their marketplace. It is all about learning how to create a brand personality.

The best explanation of how to create a brand personality is from a video I watched a few years back;

 “ Build up a picture of the kind of brand you think you are. As the brand is learning what it is, It’s also learning what it is not.”

With many startups and music artists, creating a brand personality is often overlooked and usually ignored all together. As  products becoming more blurred, with regard to differentiation, there has to be value established outside of the product or service.

To learn more about this, I suggest watching a short video module I created entitled, 3 Components To designing A Brand Identity.

 The Take-Away

As we can see, startups and music artists have very similar challenges in breaking through and becoming successful. Though a valuable and innovative product or service is the price of entry in building a successful startup, I encourage you to build a soul at the core of your business that reflects the ideals and aspirations of your audience.

Stay Hungry & Hustle Hard!

Gary

The Number 1 Reason Great Brands Are Successful

tesla 2

Take a moment to think about what brands today are currently making an impact in our society. Try to pick three or four that come to the top of your head… Now take a moment to reflect upon the great brands of yesteryear…

If you truly study what makes brands successful today, you will see a dramatically different picture of what made brands successful back then. Back in the day, the brands that may have come to mind were quite simply those who ran the most advertisements, or who had the most stores – wow have things changed! Cultural shifts change how we look at everything – it’s an all-encompassing change that some embrace and some fall victim to.

For many years, we defined stalwart brands as ‘institutions’ or ‘mega-brands’, but were they really brands? I guess if you defined them by size and revenue… then maybe they were. I guess we had no choice but to call them brands – after all we didn’t know any better because that’s all we knew. Big brands told us what to believe, and we believed it.

Well, those days are long gone. In fact, they have disappeared altogether. Brands like McDonald’s continues to struggle with the coveted Millennial market segment during this fast-moving shift because they are falling victim to what made them successful in the first place – scale, distribution, revenue… and by contrast the little guys (Chipotle, Smash Burger) are chipping away at them like piranhas in a feeding frenzy.

The Davids vs. The Goliaths

So the question becomes… how are the Davids standing toe-to-toe with the Goliaths?

They do so because they are a reflection of the cultural change in society today. They simply speak and deliver on the core values of their market place while the big brands continue to throw looping punches in a fight where speed, agility and integrity are the key skill-sets to creating a winning environment.

Note: For all the articles on this blog on branding and brand strategy, click how to brand a company.

Let’s take a look at the 3 brands below that understand the cultural shifts and deliver values that the marketplace actually cares about.

1) Tesla Motors

 Electric cars of the past exuded a very uninspired design vision. They spoke to the cultural shift of energy efficient and clean technology driven products, but lacked the design aesthetics to really lift the category to it potential.

Tesla bridged these two ideas into a beautiful car that speaks to the ‘clean’ movement in society. Design is function, and Tesla’s effort has led to them to being far and above the category leader (full size luxury sedans).  This category includes formidable brands with long heritages like – Mercedes, BMW and Lexus.

2) Whole Foods

If you were a betting person, you probably wouldn’t give many grocery entrants a chance among the giant retailers occupying that space – most notably Wal-Mart and host of other big grocery retailers. Wal-Mart is selling price, which is a big value to some, but not all.

Whole Foods understood the quality movement in society – not just in its products, but also in the entire process of bringing food and beverages to market.  Health, responsibility and fairness are the cornerstones of their brand and their customers love them for it. They can tell a unique and inspiring story that’s hard to duplicate.

Does Wal-Mart speak to any of those values? A better question might be, Can they? Currently the answer is a resounding ‘No’, as their story is in direct contrast to Whole Foods – lower cost… at all costs.

3) Nike

 There are two brands that tend to get overused when the discussion is about branding… Nike and Apple – but they get this notoriety because they have this ‘branding thing’ down better than most companies.

Nike has dominated the performance and active wear market since I was a little kid. They did, however, fall asleep at the wheel and Under Amour was able to penetrate the market in a very viable and relevant way.

What did they need to do to create distance and differentiation? They focused on consumers and community creation. The development of the FuelBand allowed them to connect products and services into a community of competition that joins people from all over the world. In short, they are selling products disguised as an integrated services offering.

The Wrap-Up

Tesla, Wholefoods & Nike have done a great job in understanding the prevailing movements in our society, and have built products that align with these movements.

As you are building the next great idea, make sure that it’s relevant and useful, but most importantly reflects the culture you are seeking.

 Stay Hungry & Hustle Hard!

 Gary

5 Brilliant But Simple Ways To Build An Authentic and Relevant Brand

shutterstock_358521743

The world of business has forever changed amidst the numerous platforms and channels that have invaded our personal space with the intent on selling us something. Most companies don’t understand the etiquette or the unspoken rules that govern these prolific social watering holes that we call Facebook, Twitter, Instagram… and it’s only a matter of time before they fall victim to a crime that they committed willingly.

A crime usually means someone has broken a rule of some sort- but here the crime is from not taking action, or simply believing you can keep doing the same thing and expect a different result. – INSANITY.

This past weekend I watched a movie with my wife called “Chef,” starring Jon Favreau, with a host of cameo appearances from Robert Downey Jr, Dustin Hoffman, Scarlett Johansson and many others. The movie captures a super star chef’s journey of success, failure and passion.  This was a small low budget movie with a big message of – Integrity!

This movie can serve as a blueprint for how businesses (small and large) can build great brands with integrity, passion and creativity. Instead of settling for insanity, companies need and must focus every ounce of their existence in relationship building and that involves extreme transparency.

There were 5 brilliant but simple ideas from this movie that will help any business communicate authenticity in a relevant and crystal clear way.

Brand Compass

Like the late great Steve Jobs once said, “What you say no to is just as important as what you say yes to.”  What he was really saying is, don’t compromise yourself or brand on things that don’t add value to it and aren’t aligned with your values. Conviction is simple to talk, but often times harder to walk. Every business goes through a variety of decisions it has to make to increase its ability to survive and hopefully succeed.

Many times the decisions that don’t serve the company well end up diluting its true value and sometimes killing it altogether. Businesses are like people – feed it the right stuff and it will perform – feed it the wrong stuff and its health suffers.

Brand Obsession

Often an over-used word, passion is what people can see and feel. Yes, it’s great to be passionate about what you do, but it is equally important that your marketplace sees your passion. Love is rarely used in business, but it’s the fuel for a business or businessperson. People and companies who leave us spellbound are usually obsessed about something – a cause so to speak.

Why? It’s a state of mind most of us don’t understand because we don’t have one of our own, and we become mesmerized by those who are so single-minded and purposeful. Find your obsession and it will ignite you and your customers.

Note: To learn more about this watch How The World’s Best Have Obsessed Their Way To Success

Brand Service

Underrated and under utilized by most companies – serving is giving unconditionally. Serving is not a marketing concept but rather an authentic expression of your intent and purpose. Making a contribution to your marketplace shows that your mission is not solely on profit, but it reinforces your company as a participating member of the community.

Starbucks is a great example of a company who serves its community, environment and coffee bean growers. Find the community(s) you would like to serve and get involved.

Brand Micro Stories

Now brand experiences can be shared real time. Pictures and videos of what happens within your company can serve as a portal for customers to get a closer peek at the people behind the company. This helps communicate your brand purpose, essence… in a more dynamic and engaging way. Think of each visual piece of your brand as a puzzle that keeps getting bigger, but continually adds up to create a clearer picture of what you’re about.

Brand Socialite

People care and see value in knowing the people behind the company. The best way to engage with your targeted market is to move to the conversations that are relevant to your brand, and become a part of the conversations. But it doesn’t stop there; you can’t just be involved in the conversations- you have to add value to them.

It’s much like a socialite that attends the right events, parties and gathering relevant to his/her business – he/she eventually becomes a valuable resource to that specific cause. Quit throwing darts at a dartboard blind folded and start getting closer to the people and conversations surrounding your business.

Allow people to follow you on your journey, so they can discover what you care about and why.

ALWAYS, HUSTLE HARD

Gary Oneil

 

How To Put The Hustle In Branding

shutterstock_338368121

When most people look at their brand or company, they think of several independent parts moving inside of it. Building a brand that truly matters, however, involves a different perspective in which all parts of the brand are moving and working together as one strategic unit.

Great brands build a cohesive structure of interdependent parts that stimulate a singular purpose and message to its audience.

Ultimately, creating consistency involves looking at your brand through the lens of the various touch-points of the consumer. This includes online as well as offline.

Brand Archaeology

So, this brings me to the “A-Hah!” moment that MJ (my business partner) and I came to recently. We kept asking ourselves,…

“How can we better communicate our brand identity in the most authentic way?” 

A question like this forces you to reflect and perform a type of brand archaeology to discover what’s at the core of what you stand for.

As we kept digging we found out more about our brand, but most importantly we found out more about ourselves. In doing so, we identified our most core competency – HUSTLE!

The Digital Footprint

Hustle isn’t a special trait necessarily, as a lot of us do this throughout our lives. In our case, hustle doesn’t just represent the idea of going for broke in a consistent manner, but includes a strategic and creative prowess that helps create value not only for ourselves but also for the people and companies we work with.

As you can see we have changed our name to Hustle Branding because this captures exactly what we stand for and how we want our brand to be remembered.

Yes, ‘remembered’ … past tense! When building your brand it is important to think of your brand legacy and what it should look like.

This was important for us because aligning our personal values with our brand purpose not only strengthens our message but also creates an authentic and transparent view of our company.

A quote by Elon Musk (inventor of Tesla Motors, Space X) puts it all into perspective with this quote;

“Brand is just a perception, and that perception will match reality over time. Sometimes it will be ahead,

other times it will be behind. But a brand is simply a collective

impression people have about a product”. 

Ultimately, this quote is simply saying, what you decide to be today will determine how the marketplace will view you tomorrow.

Don’t confuse your audience. Be clear in what you stand for and what you stand against!

Brand Recall

The challenge in today’s digital marketplace is rooted in its sheer size. People don’t take time out to read everything they see. It’s like dating – what usually gets your attention first keeps it. So, your brands first impression matters!

When we decided to change our name to Hustle Branding, it wasn’t to have a cooler name (names don’t add value to peoples lives). It’s an ideology that we want to put out in the world – something to live by – our brand creed.

It’s our job to continue to live by this creed in every aspect of our business.

The Brand Shovel

The only way to realize your brand’s potential is to dig deep down and find your brand’s convictions and make sure they align with your personal values – keep looking in the mirror until you are comfortable with what you and your brand will put out into the world.

This has helped us immensely in understanding our brand focus, and we hope it does the same for you.

What We’ve Learned

Creating a brand that oozes values that the marketplace can identify with and respect is the goal for all of us. It becomes paramount that people can visualize and feel your authenticity as a brand. Many companies don’t start off understanding their true brand calling, and become frustrated when their products and/or services don’t get the attention necessary to build a real business.

Your key brand messaging has to come from a place of authenticity. A strong brand essence built on consistent values will drive brand affinity with your audience.

I encourage you to have a productive day and make sure you don’t forget to….

Hustle Hard!

Gary

 

Why Successful Entrepreneurs Consider Adversity The Breakfast Of Champions

shutterstock_372979237

Failure and setbacks continue to ‘appear’ as giant hurdles that seem impossible to overcome. If only we realized that setbacks are opportunities for us to grow! I recently looked at my own progress in this area, and started to link my success to my ability to find silver linings in otherwise tough situations.

Once you build this skill-set you will be able to overcome the different challenges that present themselves throughout both your personal and business life. So TREAT SETBACKS AS SETUPS, so you can reach your potential and realize your dreams!

Work Hard, Work Smart & Stay Hungry!

Gary

The 1 Critical Question That Entrepreneurs Must Answer To Be Successful

shutterstock_338388431

In this video, I talk about a very important question that many businesses and startups have trouble answering. I consider this question a very important one in building a successful business.

The majority of the answers come back as a laundry list of what they do. Of course, this response does not answer the most critical question facing a businesses  success and its eventual differentiation proposition. Ultimately, we all have to answer this question – because if we don’t our customer will surely do it for us.

Work Hard, Work Smart & Stay Hungry!

 

Gary

 

The Death Of Quality Content As We Know It

shutterstock_375394078

I recently finished Trust me I’m Lying by Ryan Holiday. One of the big takeaways he discussed is that in the media world today, information, more than anything, is all about the speed and not about the value. So much so, information doesn’t even need to be the truth, it just needs to be circulated as quickly as humanly possible. This was troubling to hear at first… but sadly, it happens to be true.

We are coming dangerously close to the point where we will overdose on information and the quantity will overpower the quality to the point that no one will know how to separate the good from the bad. The more information that is created, the more is diluted and the more the quality content gets hidden.

For example, a few years ago Amazon opened up the doors to self-publishing. While this was great in many ways as it allowed unpublished authors to publish their own works, it has also increased the amount of books by such a tremendous multiple that it is now nearly impossible to differentiate the good content… from the fluff.

So how this this information addiction going to affect us in the future?

I think this addiction to quantity over quality is going to make a mess of our content. I also believe we need to get a handle on some other things that are contributing to the problem… like new innovations and new platforms.

New Innovations And New Platforms

I believe we are chasing new platforms as opposed to investing in a few that we can get really good at. The speed in which people jump to new platforms and new mediums to promote content is mind-boggling. Ditch Digg for Reddit. Ditch Reddit for Stumble Upon. Ditch Facebook for Twitter. Ditch Twitter for Google Plus.

For lack of a better example, it is like the new drug syndrome. Before one antibiotic gets a chance to prove itself, there is a new and improved drug that everyone jumps ship and starts taking. The same thing for new fad diets, new vitamins, new ways to make money, you name it people will dump one thing for the next quicker than the speed of light. One article in Tech Crunch will have you dropping what you’ve been working on for the last two years and playing with the newest and shiniest object people are talking about.

Note: For all the articles on this blog on branding and brand strategy, click how to brand a company.

The Good & The Bad Of Innovation & Disruption

Don’t get me wrong. Innovation and disruptive technology is great and it is vital to keeping companies on their toes and preventing them from being complacent. Innovation can, on the other hand, be detrimental, as people who start working on one platform and then switch to another, often times lose all the momentum they have gained from using the platform they have spent so much time learning and getting good at.

Jack Of All Trades… Master Of None

Back to social media for a moment…First there was Facebook, then Twitter, then Google Plus. When most people added Twitter to the mix their Facebook time went down. When they added Google Plus, they diluted their time even more. Personally, I don’t have the time to operate on all three platforms, nor do I want to. I generally stay on Twitter to promote content and I try to perfect myself as much as possible in one area…

Naturally, people came up with the answer to everyone’s problems… AUTOMATE!

Automation

When people stopped having the time to sit around all day and post their content manually, naturally a solution was created. Enter Tweetdeck, Buffer, Hootesuite and a number of other tools, which enabled people to put out their content at alarming speed and what’s more, bounce the same information across all the platforms at one time.

At the end of the day, there is a lot more coverage, but the fact is it’s automated… it’s all quantitative, and has nothing to do with enhancing quality. If we were focused on quality we would actually handpick what was right for each platform.

If you read N2ITIV, you know I very rarely talk about social media and I am not really doing so here either. I am simply using social media platforms as an example of how quantity is starting to kill the quality of content. It is how media works in general.

As Ryan Holiday states repeatedly in Trust Me I’m Lying, quality and accuracy are not important anymore, just the speed in which the information hits the media. Personally, I think this is a tragedy as too many people believe what they hear. For this reason, too many people are drinking really bad Kool-Aide… and they don’t even know it!

Note: To view articles for entrepreneurs starting a business, click help for entrepreneurs 

Pick Your Niche

I strongly suggest we slow things down a bit and focus on the quality of our content.

People need to find their own niche and stick with what they are good at. Some people can rock a great Vine. Some are Kings and Queens of Instagram. Guy Kawasaki is rocking G+. Gary Vaynerchuck is killing it on video. Mari Smith and Amy Porterfield are great on Facebook. Lewis Howes on Linked In. Neil Patel kills it in the technical articles he writes on his blog.

Pick what you are good at, find your lane and stay in it and gain the traction you deserve!

Work Hard, Work Smart & Stay Humble!

 

Gary

3 Fearless Ways To Stop Double-Crossing Your Core Purpose

spy_vs_spy_wallpaper_2560x1024_by_zarious

I consider myself a life long student of those who came before me, both personally and professionally. Success is often hard to teach, quite simply because circumstances and timing are hard to replicate – but they do, however, give us a chance to take away core values and principles, two things that rarely change in the formula for success.

Many entrepreneurs make decisions based on a mix of gut and rationale. Entrepreneurs must keep their creative intent and core purpose intact at all times, even when presented with opportunities that may sound unattainable or even too good to be true. Keeping your core purpose will enable you to not only enjoy the ride from start to finish, but also align what you do with how you do it!

 Chase Jarvis- Marc Ecko

I recently watched a video that Chase Jarvis did with famous clothing designer and media mogul, Marc Ecko, who has created a billion dollar empire. As I listened to the video, one part of the interview jumped out at me, and I haven’t been able to stop thinking about it. He discussed how he made some big mistakes when his brand reached the gates of success. Because he was riding a tidal wave of success, he started to lose focus on what was important to him, and he started to make decisions that nearly crippled his company.

He explained that he ‘double crossed’ his creative intent – which was why he started the business in the 1st place. Basically, he got away from the values and energy that made the company successful in the beginning. Once he got back to that place, his passion and ultimately his success was back in play.

Here are the 3 Be’s that will ensure you don’t double-cross your own creative intentions, and help you lead a life and business worth getting up for.

 1- Be The Gate Keeper

The only person that can insure your dreams and goals are met is YOU. Your vision is very specific and vivid as to how you see it become reality. Obviously I’m not saying you will not have to make adjustments and some compromises, but the essence must stay intact.

As entrepreneurs we’re always faced with decisions and opportunities that may ‘double cross’ our true intent, but we must remember that we are the gatekeepers and we determine what goes out and what comes in. If we abandon the gates, then we become what everyone else wants us to be – not what we want to be.

 2- Be More Selfish

I know the word ‘selfish’ has a bad meaning to it, but it shouldn’t. As the saying goes, you simply can’t please everyone, and if you do, you wont mean anything to anybody

So How do you differentiate yourself, if you do? … and If you’re not doing it for yourself, then whom are you doing it for?

It’s your dream and you will be living it everyday, so don’t get caught up trying to please everyone and finding out one day that you are living other peoples dreams. As Simon Sinek says, ‘Connect with people that believe what you believe,’ and you will be happier, and those that you work with will be to.

3- Be Intellectually Honest

Deciding to be more ‘selfish’ doesn’t mean to stop being smart – especially regarding how you assess yourself. It’s easy to evaluate others but ourselves – extremely difficult. As hard as you may try, you can’t lie to yourself and believe it.  True success comes when you are able to pursue the truth and not let your personal beliefs interfere. We can all be accused of being so head strong that we would rather be right than entertain something that conflicts with our beliefs. There’s no learning from that rigid and ‘Mr. I know I’m right” position, and even worse, there’s no growth from it either.

There’s nothing wrong with being stubborn, but be open and smart enough to hear and observe things that can make you better. Being the gatekeeper allows us to filter the noise (the bad stuff) from the things that add value and strengthen (the good stuff) us.

Don’t be afraid or fearful of being more selfish – it can be good as long as it’s not toxic, so don’t get carried away. Use it to stay focused and on the path.

Work Hard, Work Smart & Stay Hungry

 

Gary

7 Fail-Proof Ways To Avoid The Plague Of The Status Quo

palgue

When I think about life in total, our stay is a short one. I think we would all like to believe time is on our side, and to a certain extent it is. Life is crowded and full of ‘Stuff’ that we do every day. But my question is, “is the stuff that we do changing us, changing others or making a difference? – even if it’s for our own selfish needs?”

What I’ve noticed is a lot us are neither selfish, nor self-less as we seem to fall somewhere in the grayness of the middle. I think we do this because we get too used to our own routine (whether good or bad), and hit the repeat button every day… like robots.

The truth is, it is much easier to stay with the routine than it is to break the tractor beam of the status quo. It’s as though you are in a trance and the mother ship has beckoned you to fall in line and follow others. It reminds me of the movie, The Equilibrium, where everybody was, well, the same… and they were punished for doing anything other than the norm.

Audacious or Crazy?

I was an early bloomer when it came to breaking the status quo as, when I think back, it was a fairly audacious move when I started out running my first business with MJ. Becoming an entrepreneur during my senior year of college was not my plan and neither was leaving school to become one. The timing sucked. Shipping orders and studying for tests just don’t mix well together, and when you throw a lot of money and risk into the equation, studying just doesn’t have the importance that it once had before.

What I came to understand was that it wasn’t an audacious move for me – the people around me thought it was audacious and probably crazy, but if Steve Jobs, The Wright Brothers, and Henry Ford were called crazy, I’ll gladly wear that title as well.

Finding The Lost Tribe

 I’m a believer that journeys lead to other great discoveries. While in college, MJ and I were a unique occurrence among the status quo, which consisted of students trying to get good grades and eventually move on to a career in their field. We started out just like everyone else, but were drawn into a different direction that seemed more worthwhile and expressive of what we wanted to do for a living.

As you could imagine, there weren’t many people who could relate, or have perspective on what we were doing – initially. As we started to spend more time outside of the college environment,  we began to build connections to other entrepreneurs across several types of business. It was like finding our lost tribe because we were able to gain more perspective on what we were doing.

We began to understand why we were able to break the ‘tractor beam’ of the status quo. It wasn’t because we were born that way, or that we were brought up to think that way. It wasn’t about being different, for the sake of being different. It was simply seeing and believing in possibilities that others may have thought of as pure fiction. If that’s audacious – then so be it.

Being Audacious and Fearless

We can not grow walking a path that has beaten down and trampled by others as that path becomes hard as a rock. You will come to find out that at the end of that path is an endless line filled with people that look, think and act the same. New paths are forged with fresh new foot-prints – ones where the lines are short or non-existent.

So, how do we become more audacious and fearless?  Here are 7 fail-proof ways you can start working on, right now!

1)  Develop Your Dreams (Big or Small) – The 1st and most important step is having a dream or idea worth pursuing… Something that will get you out of bed everyday excited. Your dream has to spark you enough that you will invest your time in learning all you can about it.

2)  Be Yourself – Like this quote says, “One of the greatest challenges in life is being yourself in a world that’s trying to make you like everyone else.” Fighting the status quo is hard but bringing out your true self will eventually showcase your uniqueness.

3)  Challenge Your Past – Your past doesn’t equal your future. Being tied to your story will keep you thinking and acting like you always have. To break that, you must gradually re-write a different story that supports your new outlook.

4)  Accept A New Future – Part of re-writing your past is simultaneously accepting and believing in a new future. Your ability to make the future as real as possible will inevitably be your guiding light to success.

5)  Live with Integrity – Integrity is not some general rule that all should live by. Integrity is what you have developed, and the standards that you live by. Simply said, “Integrity is what we say, what we do, and what we say we do,” – Don Galer

6)  Own the Successes and Failures – It’s easy to blame others for bad outcomes in our lives, and it’s just as easy to give ourselves credit for the good ones. Own everything! This will enable you to take responsibility for your own outcomes.

7)  Plan and Take Action – Planning is what brings our future into reality. “Planning is bringing the future into the present so that you can do something about it now.” This quote is one that you should have on re-dial because planning takes consistency and discipline – that’s half the battle!

Today I challenge you to re-assess your career and life plans. Here are some questions to consider…

Have you been just going through the motions, or have you been challenging yourself to uncover who and what you want to be?

Are you making the sacrifices necessary to succeed, or have you decided not to give up the things that will not make your dreams into reality?

Are you confronting fear with courage, or is fear ruling your ability to start, continue and succeed at the goals and aspirations you have set for yourself?

Ask these questions, give yourself some honest answers, and just maybe you will not only survive the status quo plague, but thrive among it!

Work Hard, Work Smart & Stay Hungry!

Gary

 

 

The 7 Key Ingredients To Create An Unstoppable Power Partnership

miami-vice-movie-1280jpg-8776ff_1280w

I’ve had a partner in business for the majority of twenty years. In my opinion, one of the single greatest benefits of having a business partner is knowing that I have someone who is not only there in times of success, but also by my side in the trenches when times get tough. That is a feeling that only those who have great partners can relate to. But that only scratches the surface of a successful business marriage.

Just like in personal relationships, careful deliberation is the order of the day. I’ve found that most partnerships are either formed by way of creating a synergy of two existing entities to produce a dynamic outcome, or it comes from a personal standpoint – which is how it happened for me. MJ (my business partner) and I have been partners in a number of different ventures since 1991.

Match Made in Heaven

Our first venture was in college where we built an apparel company that eventually sold merchandise to the best retailers in the country. Our foundation was formed at a very early point in our entrepreneurial careers. We were just two excited guys glad to be doing something new and exciting. Since we didn’t know what to really expect, there wasn’t a lot of pressure initially – just two guys going for it. As the business got more complicated, we gradually understood what each other’s strong points were and divided the responsibilities up accordingly.

Fast forward twenty plus years and our partnership is based on the same things as it was back then – trust, integrity and FUN.

My significant other, and yes, I’m talking about MJ not my wife. Sad isn’t? Or maybe just plain pathetic!  But none-the-less true – I talk to him more than my wife and have probably gone out to dinner with him more as well – yikes!

Power Partnerships Defined

So, how do I define a great partnership? Well if this sounds personal… it’s meant to sound that way – here we go:

1) PassionInevitably a partnership has to start (and end) with both parties possessing equal passion for the business or idea. I believe passion is a mandatory component to create any successful venture.

2) In It To Win It (All In)–  It’s a great feeling to know that your partner is all in and will do whatever it takes to make the business succeed. This often means doing things under pressure situations and under extreme duress. This all in attitude fortifies your posture of being an unbeatable team!

3) Dedication & Commitment To GreatnessWe’ve seen how Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak created one of the greatest companies in American history, and that takes both partners pushing each other to be better and innovate at the highest level. It’s not about being good, it’s about being great.

4) Respect And HonestyThis goes without saying but deserves saying again. When honesty is lost, dissension bears its ugly head. A lack of respect causes the partnership to rot from the inside out. Conversely, having mutual respect for one another and being honest creates a path to success and acts as an investment each other’s outcomes. There is nothing I am afraid to tell MJ and the same holds true the other way around.

5) Appreciate The Differences You will never see everything through the eyes of your partner. As the old saying goes, ‘Focus on what enriches your relationship, not simply what reflects it.’ Appreciate your differences! MJ and I certainly do not agree all the time. Some may feel this is not good. To us, it’s how we grow. Being able to be willing to view a situation from the perspective of your partner will stretch your comfort zone and make you a better company if you have the respect I mentioned above, and you are open and willing to not always be Mr or Mrs. Right.

6) CommunicationJust like personal relationships, communication is the foundation of a partnership. At the very least, great communication will improve awareness, reduce tension, and create better decision making. At the very best, it makes the company work like a well-oiled machine.

7) Humor – The final component of a great power partnership is the necessity to have fun. In order for a business to last, the partners must enjoy the process of running a business. Not a day goes by that MJ and I are not cracking each other up over one thing or another. Humor is a necessity. Why? Because life is too short not to have fun.

One quick note on egos… Egos destroy businesses. I personally don’t think MJ and I have egos as we believe there is tremendous strength in humility. We weren’t always like that but I like to think we are now. What I can say, however, is if egos are involved, be sure to leave them before you walk through the door so you can reach your goals without interference and unwarranted roadblocks.

Summing It All Up

As you can see, business relationships mirror personal relationships in several aspects. At the heart of all business relationships, small or big, are human beings. Understanding what makes each other tick is an essential tool in being a successful duo. MJ happens to love working very early in the morning. I, on the other hand love to work late into the night. Because of this, we are open for business from early morning to late at night.

When you start thinking about entering into a partnership, ask yourself, what do I want in a partner? Draw up a profile of your partner, and use it as a reference. Going into a partnership based on feelings and gut can be your undoing and create massive setbacks. Think marriage. As we all know, entering a marriage on a bad foundation is costly – both time and money. Nothing is perfect, but you have to understand what you can live with and what you can’t.

If you’re already in a partnership that has it’s challenges, address it immediately. Let the person(s) know what you expect and open up the conversation. Find out what they expect. Often times your expectations are similar, but have gone off-course for some reason. It’s your job to get understanding, so you can right the ship.

Work Hard, Work Smart & Stay Hungry!

Gary

 

 

How Authentic Leadership Can Build a World-Class Business

shutterstock_375583954

Learning what it takes to be a great leader is easier said than done. I believe that motivating your team and developing a mutual rewarding and beneficial culture within your organization is one of the key traits of great leadership.

During my career, I have been fortunate enough to have worked for not only myself but for very large corporations as well. In 2006 I grabbed the opportunity to run a division of JC Penney and, to take a line out of Floyd Mayweather, with hard work and dedication, I ended up running 5 divisions and increased overall revenue in excess of 500 Million Dollars per year.

I have created this video below to give you my personal philosophy of leadership and what I think are the key components to being a great leader.

After you watch this video and if you enjoyed it, I suggest you check out the post 5 Must-Have Ingredients To Be A Transformational Leader as well as The Key Ingredient Of Effective Leaders

Enjoy!

Have a great day!

Gary

 

8 Reasons Why You Need To Hire a Brand Specialist

shutterstock_373587373

In this latest extended video module, I discuss the necessity of companies to hire outside a brand specialist to provide creative business insights that will help them grow. As a brand specialist for a good part of my career, I have noticed that internal employees have daily challenges that inhibit high performance from being achieved.  This module discusses in detail 8 such benefits. Enjoy!

The 3 Key Components To Designing A Brand Identity

Screen-Shot-2013-09-03-at-4.12.11-PM

Today I am focusing on the 3 Components of Designing A Brand Identity, which is an extended video training module I have created to further our discussion on building brand equity. In the module, you will notice I have used many brand strategy examples that you should be very familiar with in hopes to give you a better understanding of what these companies are doing that set them apart from the competition. Enjoy!

Power Tactics on How To Brand a New Company

branding-1920x1200

Start-ups are usually known for their innovative products and services, but many don’t understand how to plant the seeds of their branding message. These seeds are lines of communications that speak directly to the marketplace and express the brands essence and spirit . In this expanded training video, I discuss what it means to be a human brand – one whose core values are aligned with a target market. Enjoy, and ‘Brand Like a Human!’

How to Create a Brand Personality That Customers Will Love

HUMAN LOGO

In the past, branding meant being consistent in what your company stood for and communicating that message in a unique way. We have seen many examples of this from the usual suspects, brand leaders Nike, Apple as well as a host of one-time hits that seem to grab loads of attention and take the world by storm, if only for a moment.

The truth is, it is not just about getting attention, as branding is much more than creating noise for the sake of being noticed. The facts are, it is what happens after you get noticed that counts. I believe the key to branding is to figure out how to introduce a product to the customer and create an emotional attachment.

If this reminds you of personal relationships, then you would be correct!

Creating a relationship in business requires many of the same characteristics of courting your partner… In fact, I would go as far as to say that not only do I think it’s a worthy comparison, I believe they’re nearly identical!

What Makes Humans Tick?

Welcome to your new company called “Human, Inc.” Why such a name? Because you are now in the human discovery business, and your focus is to understand what makes humans tick. In order to do that, you have to switch from being a broadcaster to a communicator. It’s not about what you say but rather about how you say it in a way that relates to the customer.

Just like our personal relationships thrive on understanding what’s at the core of our significant other, business relationships thrive on understanding what’s at the core of our customers.

The Seat of Emotion

 Your expedition should start and focus on the ‘Wants’ not the ‘Needs’ because frankly speaking, people talk about what they want – which usually has an emotional edge. As you make your way through all the different complexities of the human psyche, what appears is a molten pit of emotions at the core.

You may be thinking, ‘It is hard enough to deal with emotions on a personal level, do I really have to deal with emotions in business too?’ The answer is a resounding ‘YES’!!

Understand the spirit of your company in relation to the customer – that’s the final destination.

Reverse Engineering Emotions

I assume you’ve heard of reverse engineering a product, but emotions? Absolutely, although it is no easy task, but then again I didn’t say it was going to be easy!

Once you understand what’s going on at the core of your customer, you now have to understand how your company fits into their lives – not your product, but YOU the brand!

To get people engaged and in a take-action state, you have to stir the pot of emotion. And how you sprinkle your company in that pot, will determine if a relationship will manifest itself.

An Immersive Relationship With The Customer

 The best way to learn a new language is to live in the place that speaks the language. Understanding your customer is no different. Your relationship has to be an immersive one – deep customer understanding.

When Abercrombie & Fitch got started, the founders lived on a college campus for an entire semester. Their objective was to have an intimate knowledge of what the college kids preferences were. This ranged from what they preferred to wear to class, off-campus, studying and parties.

They took over 10,000 pictures of students in their everyday life. They had them pinned all over the walls in their house.

When it came down to actually creating the A&F brand, they were armed with an authentic picture of what it would look like and visuals that went along with it. That level of customer understanding created a multi-billion dollar brand!

Pull Then Push

Start with pulling then pushing. The objective is to pull (discover) as much out about what the customer’s challenges are, their feelings, emotions and opinions.

These are the little things people go through everyday.

So now comes the push – your message of shared values that align with the customer’s values.

If done authentically, your products will effortlessly become part of your customer’s lives.

Lastly, these are some of the touch-points you should hear and observe from the perspective of the customer;

 “Keep Me on Top of My Life”

“Give Me Something That Changes My Life”

“ Teach Me Something”

“Help Me Make The Most of My Self”

“Get Me To Act”

“Help Me Become What I Can Be”

Feelings are hard, but as you know with most relationships, personal or business, it’s not about LIKE, it’s about LOVE.! You hear it everyday – I love that restaurant, I love my phone, I love that show – so to get customers saying that about your brand, communicate a human message and wrap your product around that message!

 

Work Hard, Work Smart & Stay Hungry

Gary