Archive for April 2011

How do you sell a community-based brand strategy to your executive team?


One of my favorite regular blog subjects is how to use community-based strategies to build brands. In fact, I’m putting the finishing touches on a new book entitled The Ad-Free Brand: Secrets to Successful Brand Positioning in a Digital World which will be out this August and covers exactly that topic.

How does a community-based brand strategy work? Simple.

Rather than staying behind the curtain and developing a brand strategy inside your organization for your brand community, you step out from behind the curtain and develop the strategy with your brand community.

Many traditional executives will have a hard time with this approach. First, it means the organization will need to publicly admit it does not have all the answers already. Some folks (especially executives, in my experience) just have a hard time admitting they don’t know everything.

Second, it means ceding some control over the direction of your brand to people in the communities that care about it. The truth is that you probably already have lost absolute control of your brand because of the impact of Twitter, Facebook, blogs, and other user-controlled media. Some folks just aren’t ready to accept that fact yet.

If you are considering opening up your brand strategy to help from people outside the organization, how do you sell the approach to hesitant executives? Why is this new model not just good philosophy, but also good business?

Here are the five key benefits of a community-based brand strategy:

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Who will be the new face of openness at Google?


Last week, Google Senior Vice President of Product Management Jonathan Rosenberg resigned after almost 10 years at the firm. While the comings and goings of tech industry executives aren’t typically that interesting to me, I found this news fascinating for a couple of reasons.

First, Rosenberg says that one of the things he plans to do is write a book with ex-Google CEO (and current Executive Chairman) Eric Schmidt. The subject? According to an article in the Mercury News, they’ll be writing about “the values, rules and creation of Google’s management culture.”

Now that is a book I’d like to read. Google is in many ways an ideal case study of the open source way as applied to management practices, and, while many have written books about Google already (notably this one by Bernard Girard and this brand new one by Steven Levy), I’d love to see Schmidt and Rosenberg’s take (and I hope we can corral one of them for a webcast on opensource.com when the book comes out).

I’m especially interested in their view of how the existing Google culture changed (or didn’t change) during their tenure. Especially since it has been reported that Rosenberg’s top-down management style didn’t mesh well at first with the existing engineering-led culture.

But what I find to be the even more interesting question in the short term is, with Rosenberg leaving, who will be the new face of openness at Google?

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Some authenticity advice from the Avett Brothers


I’m passionate about helping organizations develop more authentic, meaningful, and productive relationships with the communities around them. Last week, I suggested a few ideas for how to begin thinking about a less self-centered approach to community strategy that might help.

The evening after I wrote the post, I was taking a run around the neighborhood, listening to some tunes, when a song from the recent Avett Brothers live album came on. At the end of the song, someone in the audience must have screamed out “we love you” or something along those lines. The recording captures one of the two brothers (Seth, I think?) responding. Here’s what he said:

“We love you too. Sincerely. We’ve said it before. It’s real difficult to sound sincere on a microphone, but we love y’all too in a very big way.”

It’s real difficult to sound sincere on a microphone.

Man, isn’t that the truth.

In a few years, the Avett Brothers have gone from having a small fan base following them around here in my home state of North Carolina to selling out arenas around the world. In those words, you could almost sense the struggle. How do you broadcast a personal message to thousands of people while still remaining (and sounding) sincere.

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My book “The Ad-Free Brand” is available for presale on Amazon.com


I was looking for a new book on Amazon.com today that I read about in the New York Times, and while I was there, I thought I’d do a quick search to see if my book was available for pre-sale yet. Lo and behold, there it was!

Kind of exciting for a first-time author.

Now I just need to finish it so I can meet that August publication date. I’ve written about 220 pages in the last three months, and am pretty close to being done. If all goes well, the final bits will be off to my editor by the end of the month.

I’ve been sneakily testing out some of the concepts I’ll cover in the book in recent blog posts for opensource.com, the MIX, and Fortune, but over the coming months I’ll be previewing even more of it right here on Dark Matter Matters.

Okay, enough with the blogging… must… finish… chapter… seven…

Hey, I Wrote a Book!

The Ad-Free Brand: Secrets to Building Successful Brands in a Digital World

Available now in print and electronic versions.

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