Guest Post by Gair Maxwell - A Meaningful, Internal Dialogue
Bare-Knuckle Branding & Leadership by GAIR MAXWELL
His mug shot and Philadelphia Flyers cap says it all.
My friend Minter is always up for a good chat, especially if he gets to wax eloquent about his undying, unshakeable love for the Broad Street Bullies.
This manly affection would stand to reason if Minter resided somewhere near the city of Philadelphia, but alas, this U.K.-based hockey aficionado displays his orange-and-black fandom from the shadows of London’s Buckingham Palace.
Despite being 5,000 miles on the other side of the Atlantic Ocean, author and speaker Minter Dial is on a one-man mission to foster the lost art of Meaningful Conversation.
Here is the scoop. Had the pleasure of meeting Minter earlier this year on his brilliant podcast and instantly recognized his gift. Since then, we have stayed in touch and a couple of weeks ago my Yale-educated friend from England tossed an interesting pebble into the internet ocean. Here is an unedited excerpt:
“I have the ambition to encourage and stimulate more meaningful conversation at home, in society at large, and at work.... hopefully culminating in a new book. It's my observation that many people are starved for stirring discussions, where we engage with purpose, passion and reason”.
Specifically, Minter asked me about meaningful conversations on the subject of brands and how people in companies communicate internally on this subject. More than happy to help, this is a no holds barred look at how business leaders can crack an unwritten code that can set them up for decades of marketing success.
It's time to drop the gloves and throw a few haymakers with a Bare-Knuckle Conversation about brand strategy on Leaders & Legends.
As a business leader on the never-ending search for clarity, would you prefer?:
To hear politically correct cliches that dance around the truth?
Take a bloody punch to the nose and get real with the matter at hand?
If you picked the second option, you're reading the right blog.
Unless you are on a dedicated mission to build a Category of One brand identity, the vast majority of your marketing efforts will be a complete waste of time and $$$. We have seen how the tally can quickly add up to hundreds of thousands of dollars (in certain cases millions) tossed away lame ideas and vanilla messaging that produce little or no return.
From paying salaries for people in your marketing department to websites, advertising, social media posts, corporate videos, newsletters, company swag and charity golf tournaments, that entire budget is in effect, being tossed into a trash barrel and burned.
That wastage will continue unabated until the day you figure out the precise words you need to utilize and the vivid brand image you need to create to design & dominate your own space. Being a virtual carbon copy of everybody else in your category is the worst bloody thing you can do. It takes zero talent, imagination or any strategic thinking to use “Category Language” boilerplates to describe your products and services in much the same way as your competitors who claim to be:
Flexible, Scalable, Cutting-edge, Leading-edge and Best-of-class. Ground-breaking, Industry-leading, Innovative, Synergistic, Non-GMO, Diverse, Multi-Disciplinary and Disruption-proof!
Employing nice, non-offensive words that describe your company as being capable of providing on-time, on-budget delivery that promises peace of mind with exceptional quality supported by a friendly and knowledgeable staff is like punching a one-way ticket to predictable, unremarkable, instantly forgettable places called Insignificance and Irrelevance.
The way to break away from the rest of any pack is to recognize two simple truths:
Money Follows Attention.
You Can’t Earn Attention Without a Message or Identity That Matters.
Which brings us back to my friend Minter Dial and the immediate swagger he conveyed with his choice of Flyers headgear.
The erudite Englishman’s beloved Philadelphia Flyers are a shining example of having a brand identify that stands the test of time. A story still being told and cherished that hearkens back to their halcyon days of the mid-seventies when they were the most-feared team on ice. A brawling, physical bunch that could also score and play solid defence, the Flyers spread fear and havoc throughout the league. Many teams felt beaten before they even laced up their skates. As a metaphorical example, the Flyers brand IDENTITY delivers a most thundering bodycheck that challenges what passes today as perfectly acceptable marketing.
Whether or not you embraced the Flyers form of on-ice thuggery that led to a pair of Stanley Cup titles is beside the point. The real issue is something entirely relevant to your enterprise. Has nothing to do with the product; in this case hockey.
The real issue is instantly recognizable IDENTITY.
The Flyers established theirs 50 years ago. And STILL have it.
No matter how high or low they find themselves in the current standings, the Flyers still own the most precious component of any brand strategy. The Flyers instantly distinguishable IDENTITY is an example of what sets anyone apart in any competitive arena. No one will ever mistake the hockey team from the City of Brotherly Love for any other squad of professional pucksters.
Elon Musk has an IDENTITY. His equivalent at Nissan or Honda does not.
Richard Branson has an IDENTITY. His counterpart at United Airlines does not.
Rachel Mielke at Hillberg & Berk has an IDENTITY. Thousands of others in the jewelry business do not.
Without a clear IDENTITY that truly stands apart from all others, you are quite frankly, not part of any conversation. You have no brand strategy to speak of. You get lumped in with in with the other 45,210 lawyers in Chicago, the 48,000 other realtors in Toronto or the 11,800 second stores in America. Meanwhile, people like Musk, Branson, Rachel Mielke, Jim Gilbert, Colonel Sanders, Casey Neistat, Johnny Cash, Cyndi Lauper, Alice Cooper, ZZ Top, the NHL Flyers and many more are deeply aware of the value IDENTITY brings to the table for any goods, services, entertainment or recipe you want to share and sell.
In the world of pro sports, the Philadelphia Flyers fall into a special Category of One that includes the Lakers, Cowboys and Raiders. You either love ‘em or hate ‘em. Nothing in between. In their own distinct way, they all have an IDENTITY that cannot be copied or duplicated.
If your marketing plan can be easily copied, duplicated, applied or implemented by other companies in your category, then it’s worse than having a weak plan.
You have no plan. None, Nada.
Like a murderous right cross from a latter-day Dave “The Hammer” Schultz, let’s be perfectly candid. In hockey parlance, you have made a business decision to “turtle”. Not having a distinct brand IDENTITY is akin to avoiding physical combat by dropping to the ice, covering your head with your gloves,
Something that would never happen in Philadelphia.
“Arrive at the net and arrive in ill humour” BOBBY CLARKE
P.S. As I related in my ZOOM chat with Minter, he and I now share some allegiances towards the Flyers with my grandson proudly wearing the orange-and-black jersey of the U-15 Dieppe Flyers, a squad that recently captured a New Brunswick AAA provincial title. Cayden Maxwell is pictured on the far left; #11 in your program and #1 in my heart as the Flyers gear up for the upcoming Atlantic Championships to be played in Quispamsis, N.B. beginning on May 5th. Kudos to Head Coach Alex Armsworthy and his Flyers for building an IDENTITY that parents and their athletes feel proud to be a part of.
Released in November of 2021 through Vancouver-based Page Two Publishing, the book with the magical cover is now available through AUDIBLE and Wal-Mart. The global groundswell of support is coming from Real Readers just like Darrin Mitchell of Manufacturing Masters.
“Heroes get remembered. Legends never die” BABE RUTH.
YOUR BRAND. ON TRACK. If now is the opportune time to discover the brand story and strategy uniquely your own, consider exploring a metaphorical road trip called THE BRANDING HIGHWAY. Our Executive Bootcamps serve as a journey and destination to help your brand emerge as an undeniable, undisputed, "Category of One.” Along the way, you will discover how to create substantial Differentiation and strategic Relevance for your brand while aligning your executive team. Impossible to describe, it helps to take a quick peek at this Video Overview:
“The most important victory is the one which has to arrive” -ENZO FERRARI
PLANNING A SPEAKING EVENT?
The wheels of business turn faster each quarter, and your company or industry association may be anxious to stay ahead of the lighting-fast relevance curve. In that respect, we are scheduling many in-person and virtual programs for 2022 with customized content designed to inspire conference attendees to acquire a “STADIUM-SIZED PERSPECTIVE.”
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