I'm still standing!​

I've been working hard these past few months (with an amazing group of people) on my new website, and this blog will be a part of it. Haven't fogotten you, and have a lot more to share! I'll update soon with the new URL :-) You're going to be able to see things here change rapidly over the next few weeks. Feel free to drop me a line and let me know what you think! Love you all.  

Brand initial workshop - here's what you should be talking about (updated full version!).​

I'm sorry. This post originally went live partially, god knows why. It's fixed now, but just FYI.  You know brand is important. You want to define it. But for some reason, you run to designing a logo. As you're about to discover, there are some things that should come first - and in this post, I'll take you step by step through it! (don't forget to read my previous post to know where to go to after you finish this workshop).Let's get to it! 1. The first thing you need to do is define your story, and make sure the workshop participants are all aligned with your story (you'll be amazed how many companies neglect this phase and pay with tears later). What are your story's origins? Where is it going from here? why is it so important to you? 2. "Social currency": what in your story is worth repeating? we're not talking about sales here, not yet. Think about a family dinner, what in your story will make someone decide to share it with their family? Usually we like to share stuff we feel that will make us look/sounds good, or stuff that we believe to be valuable to others. Does your story has something like that in it? if not, it's worth trying to refine it accordingly! 3. Core message - What did you set out to do? What are you trying to achieve? No need to find sexy ways to say it, just be honest with yourself. The idea is to find that one sentence that will create the right focus and balance between formality and improvisation with your team - And it doesn't matter if it's your personal brand or professional one, if this "team" is a bunch of freelancers or your own employees. Every journey is built out of several milestones, each requires a different expertise. As the leader of this journey, you have to make sure that everyone on it is aligned with the same goals in mind. 4. What's your X factor? Why should someone care? This one is probably the most complicated question of this workshop, mainly because you, my friend, are suffering from what is known as "the curse of knowledge": you can't really remember what it was like before you knew what you know now, so you won't easily get why people are not finding your story as important as you do. So yes, it's a tricky one, but if done right, it's a game changer. 5. How does our story/product makes people feel? How do we want them to feel? Can we use an emotion that will drive someone to take a specific action? I will write about it in more details in one of my next posts, but for now - You need to make sure your story is not just an intellectual one, but also touches emotion. It doesn't have to be a positive one, by the way, it just has to have it. 6. Functional values and added values - Here is one thing most people fail to cover, mainly because it feels so obvious to those who suffer from the curse of knowledge (which is all of us!). once you dive into this, you'll understand exactly why it cannot stay in the realm of intuition and gut feeling.  7. Is there a way to make our story inseparable from our brand? A lot of brands tell good stories that people want to share, but forget that those people are not working for them. If I can tell your story without mentioning your brand, I will. So how do you build your story in a way that makes it impossible to tell it without mentioning you? While this question is super important, it's the last one as first you need to make sure you have a story that is sharable by nature :-) It will take time to cover these points. When I'm involved, it's usually eight hours or so, divided into two days (it's impossible to keep your focus for so long, don't attempt to cover everything in one day - it won't be efficient, trust me on this one). What are you waiting for?​

How to start defining your brand.​

I've been getting a lot of questions about this recently, so let's try to establish some sort of order in how you should approach your brand when trying to define it. The below is relevant for the first time you start working on it, as well as for rebranding efforts. It can also save you a lot of money that you might plan on paying some branding agency, so we can assume they won't like this post as much as you. But we're not here for them, so who cares, right? The first thing you need to understand is that your brand is already alive, so the sooner you start, the better. I have a template for what I call "the brand kickoff workshop" that I will share in one of my next posts here, so stay tuned for that as well. Once the initial workshop is behind you, it is time to separate between a few very important terms that will serve you later on: A core value is the very reason your company exists. It's the "why". You were talking with a friend, saying that you believe that if only the world had X in it, it would be a much better place. That's probably your core value, remember it. The right core value never changes, if you think it needs to change - it's not your core value. That simple. And stop lying to yourself - it's better to have a core value that says "we believe in making lots of money very fast" then lying to yourself and the world and changing it every two weeks. I would never work for you, and that's your core value, but hey, that's life. What comes next is your mission statement. A mission statement is how your particular company is going to address this core value in a way that will be unique to you. For example, Apple's core value (you knew they were coming from the headline. Shut up) is "We believe people with passion can change the world." A lot of companies can say that this is their core value. Even a leadership program at high school can claim that. But the mission statement is what sets these companies apart. Because Apple took it to "making the best tech products in the world" (not official but how off can we be here, right?), the leadership program might have agreed on "giving the best tools for bright young people" or something like that.  So - core value can sound like it fits more than your company. Mission statement, less. Next, comes the company principles. Some call them values, I prefer principles, as it helps to set these apart from the core value. Your company principles are the sum of the qualities and traits that when combined, could lead to nothing more or less than the fulfillment of your mission statement. So it needs to have a balanced approach to "soft skills" and "professional skills", and it needs to cover the aspects of your mission statement. It's that thing that if everyone in your company was a 100% fit to it, there would be no chance of not achieving that mission statement of yours.  Your company principles should impact your recruitment and assessment processes as well. If you do it right, your company will achieve your mission. If you fall in love with marketing buzz words, you'll get stuck in the worst comfort zone of all - being an average company. If you got so far OK, you are now ready to create your tone of voice and visual guidelines. These two should work together, and should take from your mission statement and company principles, of course. But as these are two giant topics, I'll keep those for one of my next posts. Just one note, for all you marketing people out there who are reading this - ALL the above should happen before marketing takes effect. If these are done right, marketing is just the part where you assemble the car in the factory.  If these are done wrong, however, all you'll be left with are a bunch of marketing buzz words that everyone is using, and an unexplained hatred to brand processes and workshops - well, there's no easy way to say it: it's not your brand, dude, it's just you.​

Of Values and men.​

It's stupid if you stop to think about it. But for some reason, most companies don't stop to think about it. They spend all this time and energy on their external storytelling and forget all about internal storytelling. What is internal storytelling? It begins with understanding you have a group of evangelists at your fingertips. I mean, these guys are just begging you to let them tell the world your awesome story. They want to take part in your story. They think about your story five days a week (at least), and more than a few hours every day.  Yet you ignore them.  If it wasn't clear by now, I'm talking about your employees and co-workers. Those who come to work every day to take part in your story, who tell their friends and families your story, who took the god damn job because of your story! Those people. And what do you do with them? Nothing. Sure, you have your values on the wall, but they are for when guests arrive or when working with a third party provider. Internally, between us? Who needs these guidelines and values? It's a waste of time! Well, guess what. Remember "The crave for narratives"? (if you don't, read it now and come back only after) If you don't provide them with a consistent story, they will make one up. We all do it when we lack a story. Why do I call it "a consistent story"? Simply because if you don't act like it, your words are meaningless. If your values say "Simple", but all your internal processes are a nightmare; If your values say "precision", but you don't mind employees sending each other stuff that will not be acceptable externally; if your values say "transparent", but all the real meetings happen behind closed doors... You see where I'm getting at, right? All these examples tell the same story, "yeah, this is what we tell our clients, but it's not really who we are."  That's not to say you shouldn't have values. What you should do, instead, is let go of the buzzwords you copied from some other brand because they sounded right, and choose the words that mean something for you - regardless of what everyone else is using right now! If you can't find such words, congrats. You have no company values. Go back to square 1 and start over. Your story and values should reflect on the way you live your life (at least professionally), on the way you conduct your business, on the way you all treat each other... When magic happens, and they do - great companies are born. When your employees and team members feel these are not just empty words, they will walk through fire for you. They will kick ass, and bring the best talents they know to join them. Why? Because you made them feel they are a part of something bigger than themselves.  So what will your values be? How will you commit to them? Answering this is even more important than telling your story externally. If you can't convince your employees with your story, why the fuck should someone else care for it?​

There's something obvious that your brand and "Lord of the Rings" have in common. And it's time you know what it is.​

We all know lots of stories. Books, theater, movies, take your pick - we all know how to recognize a good story when we meet one. Now, to be fair, what's considered good by some, might be considered crap by others (and vise versa). But there's something that comes even before that, and stands as a barrier for any story that wants to be called "good" by someone. That something is consistency, and if you want your brand story to make a impact, you need to embrace it ASAP.  What is consistency? it's a set of rules that help us (your audience) make sense in a given world - a world where your story exists. o, for example, if Elves (Lord of the Rings characters, the ones with the pointy ears) are said to be amazing with their bow and arrow, it will feel kind of off to us if one of them would suddenly miss a clear shot without a reason.  Just like that, your own story is not just a bunch of words. It create your brand's character, and once it is created, it has to obey a set of rules that came with it. If you keep changing your story and contradicting yourself, your brand identity will become "the lying brand", or "the brand that should not be trusted". Know any brands that live there? I'm guessing you know a few - just enough to know you don't want to be one of them.  How to avoid this? Simply put, try to imagine your brand as a person - what kind of person would it be? Don't just pile up all your high hopes, what you care most about in this exercise is to understand how others are seeing this "person". Once you create this persona, dig in a bit more and try to understand its true nature. How would he/she behave? what's likely for them to be doing, and what's less likely? Are there things they would never do/say? why? and so on.. Once you get that persona to live in your head, all you have to do is ask yourself whenever you feel stuck - is this something "Persona" (come up with a name, why not) would do? if yes, is it consistent with its behavior so far? If not, what would it do instead? Remember - consistency is not often noticed by our audience. Usually it's something that they only feel subconsciously, and makes them feel like "I don't know why but their story/brand sucks. I just don't trust them, call it a gut feeling".. Don't let your brand suffer from the lack of it, and your by product will be creating awesome lasting reputation for your brand. Who can ask for more, right? :-)  ​