1 How does your organization tell its story (brand) in an age of web transparency?
2 How does your learning and development team tell the story of your services and/or products?
3 Does your organization buy stories over quality?
4 Do you know (and monitor) your personal brand?

1 How does your organization tell its story (brand itself) in an age of web transparency?

We’ve always added value to goods and services with stories. A good story, with its associated emotions and images, can make bottled water worth seven times the price of gasoline. A tatty old rug with a history is a valuable antique… a shrimp cooked by a famous chef can cost twenty times more than one from a chain restaurant.

I’m sure that your strategic people get together regularly to review the “sizzle” which adds value to your services and products.

Questions to ask include: are you telling your story in a different way from the way you told it five years ago? Hot buttons are changing, and even a subtle shift will show on your bottom line.

(Feel free to invite CPS sometime. Fresh eyes, experience, creativity and solid skills …)

Are you changing your strategies to adjust to the transparent world? Everyone is losing the power to control their Internet brands, but we are all getting an invaluable free service in return. The net monitor brands. It will tell you quickly where any brand problems lie, and will show you exactly how to repair whichever area of your brand segment(s) show signs of deteriorating.

Marc Andreessen’s somewhat brutal feedback to the New York Times appears at the end of this article. It was also the basis of a recent story in Fortune.

2 How do your learning and development team tell their story?

Your learning and development department needs its own brand, to tell the story of learning in your organization to your internal customers.

If your organization is not large enough to have a learning and development department, how is the executive tasked with this function telling the story of learning in your organization?

Training and development need the usual branding package:

a) an identifier (usually a special variant of your company logo, which is only used for your learning interventions).
b) a clear idea of the attributes (features/benefits) which define your learning mission.
c) a strong association between the two.

Focus carefully on the one or two benefits (or features) of your learning mission which you want to emphasize. What do you want everyone in the company to know about this? You can only get real impact if you keep your brand focused on a couple of points.

Tie that tightly to what you deliver, and to your consistent message about learning in your organization.

As with all branding and stories, the customer owns the brand. Whatever your people believe to be true about your learning process, is true. If you say you deliver interactive, sustainable customized learning experiences, but you really deliver canned, death-by-powerpoint or click-and-forget training, your brand is worth little.

As discussed in CPS’s February newsletter, learning and development are at the core of the greatest creation of wealth in the United States in the last dozen years. Knowledge drives the development of value in our present economy. You focus on marketing your learning process will develop real wealth in your organization.

3 Does your organization buy stories over quality?

This is an age where we brand everything - including politicians, churches, universities and cultural institutions like museums.

Interesting read: Branded Nation by James B Twitchell.

Some questions to ask include:

Does your purchasing department buy the most readily-available stories/ brands? And:
How much effort does your company put into choosing quality over the most available (widely advertised) brands?

As a woman-owned, small business, I am intensely aware that local small businesses often provide better quality, value and service. They are often run by passionately dedicated and knowledgeable people, who hold themselves personally accountable for better, cheaper, customized results, and for providing careful attention to detail and quality.

4 Do you know and monitor your personal brand?

Close to 80% of recruiters google applicants to learn more about them. Nearly half of them have disqualified people on the basis of the information which turns up on the all-seeing Internet.

College students are coached to remove unprofessional material from the web, and to use the various free online identity calculators, and monitoring programs, to see what their personal brand is, at any given moment.

It’s not vanity to Google yourself - it’s smart in an age when every person, company, non-profit, church, and pastime has a brand attached to it.


How the internet gives you feedback: Marc Andreessen and the New York Times. Andreessen started a “deathwatch” for the newspaper on his blog, which quickly turned into a major article in Fortune Magazine. He ripped into the NY Times' business strategy top to bottom, attacking everything from the techno-illiteracy of its board of directors (staffed by experts in marsupials and snack cakes, but with almost no expertise in the Internet) to its recent per-copy price hike. He commented sarcastically: "When you have an obsolete, inconvenient physical product that nobody wants in an era of universal online access, the appropriate strategy is clearly to raise the price!"

And the NY Times didn’t even have to pay a business consultant.

See the full story at: http://money.cnn.com/2008/02/21/news/newsmakers/quittner_andreessen.fort...

This is an original text written by CPS. It may be forwarded, but only with attribution of authorship.

Author's Bio: 

Glynis Ross-Munro is President of CPS, a highly-effective, caring and affordable partner for companies who are interested in improving their business processes, and in developing skills, learning or knowledge repositories in their companies.

We develop and/or present customized learning programs for managerial and operational needs. We develop customized workshops and programs for managing Gen Y, four generation workplaces, and for various other types of climate and inclusivity culture evolution. We are always interested in discussing the possibility of working together.