Does Your Brand Pass the Swag Test?

Posted by Owen Matson, Ph.D. on April 11

The Swag Test:

To evaluate the impact of your brand, consider the swag test.  Offer potential or existing clients a hat or some other bit of wearable swag that bears your brand.  Would they wear it like a John Deere hat?  If you don't have the necessary swag, don't worry. The following questions also work as a useful thoughtg experiment: 

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Topics: Differentiators, Brand, B2B Branding,, Brand Identity, Brand Development, Branding

Why Brand Value Can Matter Most When it Doesn't Seem to Matter at All.

Posted by Owen Matson, Ph.D. on April 11

Shakespeare's Juliet famously argues that names don't matter:  "What's in a name?  A rose by any other name would smell as sweet." In other words, calling a rose by any other name--whether a "dandelion" or "doughnut"--won't change the way the flower effects our sense of smell.  Juliet's line presents a classic take on the arbitrary character of names.  Names are nothing more than human inventions that refer to real things.  As such, names obviously don't change the reality of things themselves.  It's common sense.

Then again, what we call a "dollar bill" is more than a piece of paper. The Mona Lisa is much more than a bunch oil paint smeared on an old canvas.  While names are aribitrary, they are not trivial.  Things are things, but names and labels shape how we experience the meaning of these things. I don't know about roses, but a car by another name can be in fact feel much sweeter.  

So what's in a Brand?  A lot.

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Topics: Automated Sales, Brand, B2B Content, B2B Brand Writing, Brand Style Guide, Brand Identity, Brand Story, Brand Strategy, Automotive Industry

Subscription as Artistic Service: Autonomy On Demand at HBO and Netflix

Posted by Owen Matson, Ph.D. on April 3

Working with HBO was an opportunity to experience creative freedom and 'long-form development' that filmmakers didn't have a chance to do before the emergence of shows like The Sopranos.

 —Martin Scorsese            

Subscription Service and the Importance of Risk Taking

Martin Scorcese is not alone in his opinion that HBO offers an "opportunity to experience creative freedom."   References to creative freedom and idependence have become hallmarks of HBO's brand identity. Less aknowledged, however, is the business model that supports this freedom.  At its core, HBO's capacity to provide "an experience of creative freedom" reflects the autonomy of a subsrciption-based business model that enables independence from external commercial funding.  

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Topics: Content, advertising, Brand, B2B Marketing, Content Strategy

My Advice on Grammar: Whatever Works

Posted by Owen Matson, Ph.D. on March 29

Instead of using grammar "as rules" for proper usage, we need to use grammar as tools for effective impact.

Grammar Rules are Tools.

That’s right, when it comes to grammar, the rules are tools.  Don't think of them as bureaucratic regulations designed to get in your way, and don't think of the chance to bend them as a special treat. Instead, think of them as a collection of techniques that are likely to have the desired effect on your readers.

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Topics: Brand, B2B Content, B2B Brand Writing, Grammar

Writing-Marketing-Tech: Merging Technical Writing into Effective B2B Content

Posted by Owen Matson, Ph.D. on March 22

Market-Tech Writing: The Rising Values-Based B2B Branding Requires New Forms of Content Writing  

While 88% of B2B marketers currently incorporate content marketing strategies, 60% say they struggle to create “engaging content.” In other words, the rise in content marketing has not necessarily meant a rise in content that actually engages audiences.  Where’s the disconnect? 

For Ann Handley of Marketing Profs, the challenge of creating engaging content reflects fundamental challenges in the quality of content writing.  While 72% of B2B Marketers want to focus on creating engaging content, Handley notes that only 41% express interest in improving their storytelling skills.  And only 19% are focused on becoming stronger writers.  Hadley argues that the tendency to "undervalue writing" and storytelling in the content process “is why we have a tough time creating 'engaging content'—and why that has consistently been a top challenge in the past six years.”

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Topics: Creative, Business Communication, Brand, storytelling, B2B Marketing, B2B Content, B2B Digital Marketing

Do Leaders Know How to Ask “Why”? 

Posted by Owen Matson, Ph.D. on March 17


The "why question" is important, but the answer is more important. 

According to Simon Sinek, your answer to “why” serves as “the purpose, cause, or belief that inspires you to do what you do.”  Ever since Sinek inspired readers to Start with Why (not to mention his viral Ted Talk), the importance of the why question has emerged as a fundamental  piece of leadership wisdom.

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Topics: Differentiators, Business Communication, Brand, Thought Leadership, B2B Content, Content Strategy

Heinz Turns to Mad Men’s Don Draper for Real Ad Campaign

Posted by Owen Matson, Ph.D. on March 14

Heinz turns to Mad Men’s Don Draper for Real Ad Campaign

Today’s conventional wisdom began as yesterday’s radical nonsense. Following an adman’s evolution from the dawn to the dusk of the revolutionary 60s, AMC’s Mad Men had a particular knack for documenting radical shifts in thought over time.  Attuned to the cultural transformations of the era, the show is also savvy to the transformations in marketing.  When it comes to branding, Don Draper, the series “mad” anti-hero, is a visionary—often well beyond the time of his clients, who frequently find his ideas nonsensical. 

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Topics: advertising, Brand, Thought Leadership, B2B Marketing, B2B Content

To Thine Own Self Be True?  What Shakespeare Can Teach us about Authentic Branding

Posted by Owen Matson, Ph.D. on March 13

Authenticity, as readers in the marketing profession have likely heard (many times), is all the rage these days. The trend makes sense.  For one, claims for authenticity always sound good, even inspiring.  And why wouldn’t they?  Authenticity suggests a host of admirable virtues: Honesty (you’re not hiding anything), courage (honesty despite the possibility of negative consequences), integrity (commitment to personal values), and individualism (being oneself despite social pressures to be otherwise).

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Topics: Brand, Thought Leadership

Acting Real: Beyond the Contradictions of Authentic Marketing

Posted by Owen Matson, Ph.D. on March 9

Act Naturally--Or at Least Don't Act Unnaturally! 

Common marketing wisdom holds that  brand authenticity plays a key role in growing business.  According to Kissmetrics, authenticity brings the following benefits:

  • It elevates your business above the competition
  • It builds your identity and image into something influential
  • It gives substance to your business, services and products
  • It enables people to relate to your business
  • It helps people understand how what you offer is of benefit to them
  • It tells people that what you offer is of high quality
  • It marks you out as a reliable, trustworthy company
  • It encourages engagement and can turn audiences into advocates

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Topics: Creative, Content, Narrative Marketing, Brand, Thought Leadership, B2B Marketing

7 Metrics Essential for Measuring Brand Awareness

Posted by Owen Matson, Ph.D. on March 6


Metrics: More than Clicks

Analytics is more than just a convenient way to track how many clicks you get – it’s about making your marketing make sense, connecting to your consumer, and creating a two-way street between you and your buyer, and you and your sales team. It does a lot! Getting comfortable with the idea of analytics, and more importantly, learning to rely on the insights you draw from your data will give you the clearest picture of the effectiveness of your marketing efforts and overall content strategy.

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Topics: Marketing Data, Brand, B2B Marketing, B2B Content, Content Strategy

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