Wednesday, February 06, 2008

"Let him that would move the world first move himself." Socrates

"To be surprised, to wonder, is to begin to understand." Jose Ortega Y Gasset

"Nothing is more damaging to a new truth than an old error." Goethe

Today's image: The Last Time by FotoRita. Great shot. Thanks for sharing.

"Branding is not complicated"

Late last year we lost one of the giants of advertising. The gentleman who first gave us the notion of a single football game, the Super Bowl, as the premiere ad vehicle of the year. At heart a writer, he took pen in hand to create memorable classic tag lines including "We bring good things to life," "It's not TV, it's HBO," and "Visa: It's everywhere you want to be."

Phil Dusenberry was a lion in advertising's forest. A former radio guy who done good. (NYT obit)

Let me take a moment, amid all the noise and, too often, pure nonsense being written about branding, and share the unvarnished Dusenberry take. From his wonderful book Then We Set His Hair on Fire...

"Branding is not complicated. A brand is nothing but an expression of the consumer's loyalty and trust. It's a bond, a covenant with the consumer. When you see the brand's name attached to a product, do you trust that the product will deliver a predictable level of satisfaction? If so, you will be loyal to that brand - so loyal that you will stick with it even when a better product comes along. (That loyalty explains why it takes so much time and so much money to steal customers away from a leader. Leaders generate trust and loyalty - in that order. And loyalty makes them hard to unseat at the top.) So loyal that you will not only stick with that product, but when the brand name is attached to a new product, you will buy that product too.

The amazing thing to me is that loyalty - even when it is attached to the vagaries of emotion - is not a vague, amorphous concept. It's hard, it's real, it can be quantified.

One of the main goals of advertising - and by extension, any branding strategy - is to create lifetime customers, not just a short-term spike in sales. And that cohort of loyal lifetime customers lets you protect your sales and revenues far into the future. The sales are ongoing and repeatable. They're the best thing in marketing - the guaranteed transaction. And you can attach a number to those transactions that defines the value of your company's name, what it stands for, what it means to the consumer."

Brilliant! Phil later goes on to say...

"Elevate the product by elevating the emotions attached to the product. You don't need to know much more than that."

One more insight from Phil...

"My earliest mentor, John Bergin, taught me that your reputation rests more on the work you reject than the work you approve. If you don't have a kill rate of 10 to 1, he said, you're standards are too low."

Which begs the question - what's your kill rate?

The following is one of Phil's eighteen guidelines (not rules) for creative directors. Pure gold...

"Be really tough on the work. With the accent on 'really'...the power to stop bad work was the only true power a creative director possessed. You can't predict when the great work appears or if the client will appreciate its greatness or, for that matter, how the public will respond, but you damn well can stop bad advertising from getting out the door...your 'no's' are far more decisive in setting your standards than your 'yes's'...Never let a due date or client meeting the next day convince you that something's ready when you know it isn't. Send it back. Make everybody stay at their desks all night if you have to. Cancel the meeting (as a last resort). And don't feel too bad about it. You'll feel a lot worse if you compromise and let something less than great get through."

Midtown buzz: Sumner Redstone will be honored tomorrow night at a Paley Center black-tie gala held in the city at the Waldorf. Jon Stewart booked as the evening's host has backed out due to a "busy schedule" - ouch! Hearing it will be Charlie Rose to the rescue. Congrats and cheers to Sumner!

Billionaire blogger: Carl Icahn starts blogging (soon) on corporate governance. No kidding, here.

They're back: The Industry Standard once the most important of all pubs to the dot com tribe is returning. This time around no glossy dead tree stuff, nothing but net. Derek Butcher signs on as general manager. Good luck guys.

Bonus: Kevin Kelly, Better Than Free. [via]

Congrats & cheers: Dan Kelley celebrated a year of blogging yesterday. Dan, a rock radio programmer, lost his job in 2007. He got right back to work launching his Classic Rock blog for radio programmers. During the last twelve months Dan posted almost 400 entries. More often than not his posts were a celebration of radio folks doing things right. Moreover, he caught station people (and others) doing the right things and shared his pov on issues of the day. Dan, not yet back in the radio programming ranks, continues doing his homework, a serious student of rock radio. Bravos and thank you for sharing, Dan. Rock on! Read his blog birthday post here.