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Get the Free 20 questions to Ask Before Launching Your Idea workbook when you sign up for occasional updates.

How Will I Know You?

The 1915 design brief for the original Coke bottle was simple. The criteria were that it must be recognisable in the dark and if it was broken. The result; a timeless, elegant solution which plays a huge part in creating a memorable brand story.

Think about how you could apply criteria like these to make your brand unforgettable.

Do you have a memorable voice like Virgin?
Are you showing up every day like Seth?
Does your service WOW! like Zappos?
Are you more vivid than Sydney?
As friendly as IKEA?
Do you make people feel as creative as Moleskine?
Can you show your impact like charity:water?
Are you the best in the world like Bill?

Brands that succeed stand out. Ideas that spread stand for something.

Image by AJ Brustein.

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6 Questions For Crafting Your Relevance

When was the last time something caught your attention? In our increasingly noisy world things that captivate us for more than a few seconds are few and far between.

We have become experts at shutting things out, at not paying attention to anything that doesn’t hold relevance for us. In any market we need to think about how we can become relevant. Remember relevance in the eyes of our customer might not be the same as relevance in ours.

Six Questions For Crafting Your Brand Relevance

1. Who do we want to care about what we sell or do?
2. Why would those people care about what we do or what we are selling?
3. Why would they cross the street to buy from us?
4. What emotional want are we fulfilling?
5. How can we make this more about them and less about us?
6. What will they be able to say to their friends to recommend us?

We need to give people one reason to care about us, not just a hundred different reasons to buy from us.

Image by Barbara Mazzarella.

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25 Ideas On Using Instagram For Business

Instagram is a ‘real-time’ photo sharing application currently available as a free App for iPhone and iPod with plans to extend to a website and other mobile platforms in the near future.

More than that though it’s a storytelling, entertainment and engagement platform with 3 million users and growing, (update now at 10 million+) from every corner of the globe. You can see the world as it is, as it’s happening through the eyes of real people, share your own images and start conversations. Instagram also enables users to share their photos on other social networks such as Facebook, Twitter, Flickr and Four Square.

Why are people using it?

The beauty of Instagram is that it erodes all of the problems of photo sharing. It’s fast and easy to use on the go. It makes photos, even ordinary ones look beautiful with a series of filters you can apply in seconds. It integrates seamlessly with other social sharing platforms. There are an increasing numbers of websites and platforms which allow Instagram users to share and buy physical products of images. It connects and entertains people. It allows them to tell their story. And it’s free!

Why should brands and businesses be interested?

Instagram is a place where people are sharing and telling their story through images in the moment. It goes beyond Twitter’s; ‘what are you doing?’. In fact many commentators are describing it as Twitter meets Flickr.
It provides ‘real time’ insights into how people are interacting with the world and most probably your product. This platform will enable brands to connect directly with users and customers like never before and gain ‘real-time’ insights into how consumers are interacting with their brand.

How and why businesses and brands should use Instagram?

1. It helps brands to find products for their customers not just customers for their products.
2. It’s an opportunity to conduct real-time market research.
3. To drive momentum.
4. To get people talking about what you do and why you do it.
5. For customer engagement and intuitive marketing.
6. To deepen relationships.
7. It enables you to put the customer front a center.
8. For running competitions.
9. To see and hear what consumers believe about your brand.
10. To get opinions before you need them.
11. As a way to create a buzz about what you are doing.
12. As a platform to help fans find and interact with each other over a shared love of what you do.
13. It’s free!

Getting started

14. Download the Instragram App and create your profile.
15. Obtain the all important username (many brands have yet to act on this, think Twitter).
16. Post photos of your products and behind the scenes of your business.
17. Announce your Instagram arrival to your followers and fans on other social sharing platforms.
18. Ask for feedback.
19. Listen to comments.
20. Interact with your followers.
21. Search hashtag categories to gain insights into how people are interacting in your space.
22. Tell your brand story in new and interesting ways.
23. Post regularly and monitor your account.
24. Share your photos across other social sharing platforms.
25. Optimize.

How non-profits are using Instagram to engage with their communities.
Is your business on Instagram?
How to run a photo contest on Instagram.
Instagram tips from top beverage brands.

Image by Xava du.

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How Apple Succeeds By ‘Thinking Different’

“We’re not going to get a chance to get people to remember much about us. So we have to be really clear about what we want them to know.” Steve Jobs.

Lots of people can do what you do as well as you can do it. If that’s not the case and you’re lucky enough to be the best in the world, or even better the only one in the world, then you probably won’t be for long. Plenty of other companies make good reliable computers. That’s what they are about. How Apple succeeds is by understanding and communicating what they’re not about.

“What we’re about isn’t making boxes for people to get their jobs done.” Steve Jobs

What Apple wants us to know and believe about them is that their company has a soul, that they don’t respect the status quo and that they work to help people with passion push the human race forward.

What are you not? And what do you want your customers to know?

Image Nathan Makan.

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So…. What Do You Do?

Have you ever had difficulty explaining the really cool project you’re working on to people? You’re not the only one! Even really smart people get stuck at trying to tell us what they do.

The founders of Instagram, (the iPhone app that is taking communication in the social space by storm), Kevin Systrom and Mike Krieger made an admission during an interview last week. They realised the project they were working on before Instagram, (Burbn a location based app) wasn’t going to fly because they were having difficulty explaining it to people. So they changed tack and built something that they could explain in a single sentence. Instagram is, “a fast, beautiful and fun way to share your life with friends through a series of pictures.”

If your audience doesn’t ‘get it’ then how are you ever going to resonate? Resonance is what makes ideas fly, and spread. It’s what elects leaders, creates lovemarks and propels movements.

We need to get better at helping people to understand what we do and why we do it, so they can figure out where our ideas, products and services might fit into their lives. We have only thirty seconds to convince them, that’s one sentence, maybe two.

And perhaps most important of all we need to give people a reason and the language to share us with their friends.

Image by Paul G.

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Framing Your Scarcity

Do you know a woman on the planet who wouldn’t get excited if she was handed this blue box?

I bet if a behavioral economist studied this they’d find that on a scale of one to ten, the excitement about the contents would rate lower than the elation experienced on receiving the box. The scarcity of the blue box is what creates the value Tiffany & Co. This works for your brand, business or idea too. Framing your scarcity enables you to demonstrate your value.

Understanding and acknowledging what’s rare or unique about what you do, or how and why you do it is the key.

Perhaps you make beautiful one off silk scarves? Maybe you only work with two design clients at a time? You might have the ability to stop people censoring their dreams? Or maybe you’re launching an event that sells to just 140 people? Can you build a website in a weekend, or an amazing iPhone app that’s scarce because everyone wants to try it?

Have you spent the best part of four years bringing about the dream of opening an Artisan Bakery that only opens for five hours and sells out of a tiny range every day?

Unless you’re making brass thumb tacks, there is an element of scarcity in what you do and how and why you do it, a combination of your story and your superpower.

Uncovering that and working out how to tell the world about it is your goal.

Image by Andrew Hoyer.

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Your Best Idea….

“There is no map. You are the mapmaker.” Shoshana Zuboff

Your best idea…..

is not always the one that will make the most money.
may be the one that people laugh at.
is true.
could be tested or implemented for close to free.
can be explained in 140 characters or less.
might seem insignificant.
may not be yours.
is scarce.
might be exclusive.
is already out there.
is original.
makes a promise.
is not for everyone.
is untested.
could be instinctive.
might be strategic.
is carefully planned.
is accidental.
has been tried by others.
tells and old story in a new way.
connects people.
scares you.
is impractical.
is generous.
creates meaning.
happens out of the corner of your eye.
is at the edge of what already exists.
doesn’t need the permission of others.
is the one they said wouldn’t work.
could be given away for free.
is your passion.
could be boring.
might fail.
deserves to see the light of day.
is an opportunity.
changes the way people think and act.
solves a problem.
benefits others more than you.
hasn’t come to you yet.
needs a deadline.
brings people joy.
is easy to share.
changes how people feel.

What else?

Image by John Cooper.

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There’s Only One Orla Kiely

There’s only one Orla Kiely but a hundred ways to experience her brand. A brand that appeals across generations from teens to youthful grandmothers.

That doesn’t mean that Kiely’s multicolored designs inspired by the 1960s and 1970s appeal to everyone, quite the opposite. You will either love them or hate them. Orla says that “they are for confident women who know what they like and who are not necessarily victims of fashion.”

I’m guessing that when she moved into designing handbags rather than hats (after her father noted during her first London Fashion Week that everyone was carrying a handbag, but no one was wearing a hat!), that Orla didn’t design things for everyone. She already had a clear picture in her mind of the women she was making things for.

And because they weren’t for everyone her bags were something to covet and once you had one, to share. I was introduced to a friend’s purse once with the words; “this is my Orla Kiely”.

Whatever your idea is, whatever you hope to sell or spread, you need to consider how and why your customer will share it with her friend. There may not be a scarcity of handbags or designers out there but there is a shortage of stories we care enough about to share.

Create those kind of stories and who knows maybe one day your design will be featured on a bus, car, or maybe even a postage stamp.

Image by Tilde Shop.

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What Makes A Good Tagline?

As entrepreneurs and brand builders we like to think that our tagline could be the thing that positions our brand uppermost in the minds of clients and customers.

We want something original and unique, a brilliant one liner that will make us unforgettable. I am asked what makes a great tagline a lot.

I could write a list and tell you that it needs to:

    • Be memorable.
    • Resonate with your idea and your mission.
    • Include a key benefit of your brand.
    • Appeal to the senses not to logic.
    • Help to recall the brand name. “Coke is it.”
    • Differentiate your brand.
    • Communicate positive feelings about your brand. “Love where you live.”
    • Convey the brand strategy.
    • Avoid current trends. Like the one word tagline which anyone could ‘own’.
    • Avoid corporate speak and jargon. Anything that sounds like a bank tagline.

I’d like to re-frame the question though by asking what does your tagline do?

Does it fill the white space on your business card and website header? Or does it communicate your intention to staff and customers? My friend Angela runs ‘Australia’s best cafe’.

Does your tagline stand for something customers can believe? Zappos’ really is, ‘powered by service’.

Does it tell and old story in a new way, ‘3 socks, 2 feet, 1 you’?

Is it easy to spread because it’s true, Moleskine, sells, ‘legendary notebooks’.

Does your tagline create meaning? Is this something your customers, clients or donors care about?

Are you making a promise you can keep, because that’s what really matters?

Image by Jamison Weiser.

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Make Meaning

Sharing your idea with the world has never been easier.

You don’t even need the marketing budget of Revlon like you did in the old days. Today the best brands tell stories that people want to believe and make meaning before making money. Some of the biggest successes of our time, Facebook, Google and Twitter made meaning first and money later. Tiny charitable foundations have found their voice in a crowded marketplace through their ability to tell and share a story that people wanted to believe.

Each of the foundations below started with the passion of just one person and their will to tell a story and spread an idea that would change something.

Childsi Foundation


charity : water

Room to Read

Designers, cafe owners and shoe retailers have done this too. There are a hundred different ways you could do this for free and nothing to stop you.

Image by Bethan.

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