The BrandBuilder Pony

The BrandBuilder Pony

This past Follow Friday (#FF in the Twitterverse) I signed up to follow Olivier Blanchard, aka thebrandbuilder. Branding and Marketing are right up my alley and we had several following/followers in common so it seemed like a good move.  2 days in and I’m very confused, yet very intrigued by his tweets. Case in point – he just switched his photo from handsome creative-type guy with glasses to a pink my little pony.  It’s all part of his new #StepfordTBB campaign.

As far as I can tell – being a new follower and all – he used to call it like he saw it with the good, the bad and the ugly of Social Media.  He offers criticism and strong opinions on Social Media marketing in hopes of driving the medium forward.  Over at his blog The BrandBuilder Blog he says it is a “blog about building strong brands through passion, innovation, creativity and common sense.” Smartly written with just enough pop culture to make the strategy go down easy, this is an admittedly funnier version of what I imagine my blog will become.

What Olivier is now doing over at his Twitter Account is, starting this afternoon, nothing less that a complete 180.  Fed up with taking flack for his opinionated tweets he has changed his tune.  “It’s going to be so awesome being 100% positive all the time. I’ve been doing this all wrong, seeing snake oil where there wasn’t any. His posts are coming fast and furious tonight, but are made of rainbows and unicorns, definitely no snake oil or (snake) bite to them.  He changed his Twitter bio to read “I used to call out BS. Now, I just agree with everyone.”  Looking at his Twitter feed I can see I’m not the only one confused yet intrigued by his new attitude. He’s doing an admirable job of interacting with his followers, replying to their frantic questions while staying in character.

How long this #StepfordTBB will continue is hard to say.  But just a few hours in, Olivier has managed to grab my attention from my crowded Twitter feed, make me Google to find his blog, check out where he’s based (South Carolina – I could have sworn he was a Vancouverite based on our shared contacts!!) and finally locate his company site The BrandBuilder Marketing. If I’m any indication, this sounds like a solid evening of work. Bravo Olivier!

My Goal: Less Season 1 Pam, more Season 4 Pam.

My Goal: Less Season 1 Pam, more Season 4 Pam.

And here he is, staring in my latest post for my Social Media Class at BCIT.  My social media persona is opinionated  – more so that I am in real life – which lead to a minor meltdown earlier this week as I questioned if I should be sharing these opinions with the world wide web.  What if someone I know finds this blog?  What if someone I work with reads this blog? But I have opinions on marketing-communications and creative campaigns and this seems like a “safe” place to share those opinions.  I’m using it as a training ground so that I’ll be more willing and able to speak up when I’m called upon to offer my expert opinion in the workplace. Clients and coworkers expect me to guide them. They trust me.  I need to learn to trust myself.

After his work today, I would definitely trust Olivier to take my brand to the next level.  I’d love to see what he could come up with.

I’m in the process of restructuring my in-house creative department at work.  Management is starting to push for the new department policy manual and job descriptions…yeah, I’ll get right on that in all the free time I have  (please note sarcasm here, I know it doesn’t always translate to the blogosphere).

Jerry Maguire

Embrace the "Mission Statement" when restructuring your In-House Creative Department

Regardless of workload, it must happen so here I am at home, Monday night, drinking leftover weekend bubbly, rocking out to Robyn’s “Dancing on my Own” and writing the new mission statement a la Jerry Maguire.  Instead of sending it out to the company I think I’ll just blog about it – that would be the 2010 version of his mistake. Luckily I haven’t had THAT much bubbly so we’ll be fine.

I’m feeling especially inspired because of this fantastic blog In-House I.D. on the AIGA, the professional association for design.  They really nail the “second class” feeling that haunts in-house creative teams and the challenges of overcoming that notion.   It provided me with a great To Do List to guide me through this restructuring process.

HOW TO RESTRUCTURE YOUR IN-HOUSE CREATIVE TEAM

  • Have a team meeting (discuss strengths and weaknesses and vision for the future; get buy in from everyone)
  • Write a Department Mission Statement (clear purpose and identity)
  • Create a Visual Identity (brand yourself)
  • Produce a Capabilities Brochure
  • Gather Case Studies of Past Successes (to present to management and clients)
  • Costs (show what they are and where they come from)
  • Draft a Self-Promotion Marketing Plan (Announcement, Launch Plans, Emails for management and past and perspective clients)

Another great AIGA post is Can In-House Design Departments Be Respectable which offered these words of wisdom “…treat your clients as if you had to land them yourself and as if they were free to use anybody they wanted. If you don’t, they’ll eventually end up with that freedom and you’ll be looking for a job.”

I know my greatest challenge through this restructuring process will be to delegate. As much as I want to do it all, and have the control and  credit that will come with it, I need to recognize that it is a massive undertaking and the more I can share the burden, the stronger the final product will be.

I did come up with a fantastic new idea tonight to improve internal communications (an ongoing challenge) and I’ve decided that our new office space should look creative. I think I’ll have a chat about paint colours with my boss tomorrow… either that or a little Show Me the Money!

"I'm Sorry Taylor" -@KanyeWest Even jerks like Kanye West realize the power of saying they're sorry through social media.

You know the old saying, it takes a real man to say he’s sorry.  Same goes for companies operating in the world of social media. When there’s a problem – whether it be a technical glitch or an inappropriate comment – you can’t hide it. The best and worst part of social media is the fact that messages travel instantly and once out there they can be linked, forwarded or retweeted a million times over. The leaders of the social media game know enough to admit when they’re wrong, apologize and move on.

Mario Sundar, social media expert for LinkedIn, wrote a great post about the Top 5 Corporate Blog Apologies. My personal fav is Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg “We really messed this one up.”.

What’s great about all the apologies Mario selected is that they sound real. They sound like what your boyfriend or best friend would write. They embrace the casual, real nature of social media and don’t try to dance around the issue with corporate speak. This quote from the Hugh Macleod at the 2010 Online Marketing Summit sums it up nicely:  “If you talk to people in social media the way advertising talked to people they’d punch you in the face.”

Transparency is important to organizations when using social media because you are speaking to your followers on what should feel like a personal level and, if they sense you are lying, they will cut you from their social network. Companies should be injecting some personality into their posts, and with personality comes the risk of saying something that could be misunderstood. But without risk there is no reward so speak freely to your followers and build that interaction. If every social media comment has to be approved by a committee then you’ll never say anything.

Are there limits to transparency during a crisis? Sure, but you just need to be smart about it. Don’t share information that will put you at a competitive disadvantage or violate privacy agreements. Don’t allude to things that are still in the idea stage and don’t name names.  Look professional, take responsibility as a company and promise to do better in the future. You don’t have to admit the scale of the mistake or go into details of your business strategy.  In most cases a simple apology will be sufficient. Unless you’re Kanye.

If you were to ever visit my desk at work you would find it covered in brightly coloured post it notes. I work in an industry that has yet to fully embrace the email. It seems to attract people who prefer face-to-face contact. There seems to be an endless stream of people stopping by my desk to make requests. Some people literally respond to my email with a message that says “I’m coming to see you” and then walk across the office to give a simple yes/no answer!

Me, I’m the super-organized, must-have-everything-in-writing, live-by-the-list type of person which means I use a lot of  post it notes to keep track of all those verbal requests. I like the neon ones. I have them in multiple sizes. There is also a great sense of satisfaction that comes from completing a task, crumpling up the post it and tossing it into the recycling bin under my desk.

And that is why I would be lost without my Post Its….and why I love this video.

I lead an in-house creative department at a local real estate company where I design and produce unique marketing pieces for over 100 salespeople. Yet, when asked, I say that my greatest strength lies not necessarily in my design skills but in my organizational skills.

The focus of my blog will be to investigate creative marketing solutions for small businesses and individuals working with limited budgets. I’ll be looking at how we can incorporate ideas from big budget campaigns into smaller scale successes.  I also plan to investigate some of the unique challenges faced by in-house creative teams.

The goal of the blog is to brainstorm new ideas to offer my clients and also to help me streamline our systems to maximize the service my team offers.

Sometimes people in creative roles are labeled as dreamers (code for unreliable). I know that my clients value me because I offer creativity that works within their budgets and to meet their deadlines. In other words, creativity you can count on.

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