Archive | March, 2008

My first Lovemark

31 Mar

I had an interesting experience this past week when I was working one morning at a coffee house in Boise. As I sat at a table with my vanilla latte and my MacBook Pro open on the table, no less than three complete strangers stopped in their tracks to compliment me on my choice.

Not on the caffeinated beverage or my outfit of the day (which I thought quite stylish) – but on my computer.

And these weren’t casual passing comments. These were enthusiastic exclamations of joy and excitement.
“Wow, is that a MacBook Pro?”
“Aren’t Macs great? My wife just bought one last week. Tell her how much you love yours honey?”
“My kid just got one for college and loves it! What has your experience been like?”

And 20 minutes later, a gentlemen came up, patted me on the shoulder and exclaimed, “Congratulations on your decision!” At first, I thought he knew me and was commenting on the new PR Agency we’d started. But no, he was talking about the decision to buy a Mac.

Now, I’m not shilling for Mac (although it may sound that way!) In fact, I had to be convinced to leave the PC world behind and still don’t consider myself a die-hard Mac user.

But that morning left me at a bit of a loss for words.

Think about it… what other brand elicits such an emotional response?

Disney, Nike, Coke – all powerful global brands. But I’ve never gotten high fives when jogging in my Nikes or been hugged by a stranger when I had my Mickey Mouse ears on.

A Forbes.com column quoted WPP CEO Sir Martin Sorrell saying, “Difference between products and services are becoming less. Therefore, psychological differentiation and lifestyle differentiation are more important.” I would add the obvious extreme increase in brand messages and methods of message distribution as additional reasons that brands must reach for something more personal to have lasting loyalty.

Which leads me to a concept I was first introduced to four years ago. Lovemarks: The Future Beyond Brands . Essentially…
“Lovemarks reach your heart as well as your mind, creating an intimate, emotional connection that you just can’t live without. Ever. Take a brand away and people will find a replacement. Take a Lovemark away and people will protest its absence. Lovemarks are a relationship, not a mere transaction. You don’t just buy Lovemarks, you embrace them passionately. That’s why you never want to let go. Put simply, Lovemarks inspire.”

Isn’t that what all communicators strive for? Passionate embrace of your product or company, inspiration and the formation of a lasting relationship with your customer?

Think I’ve finally experienced my first lovemark (Yes, Apple is on the list at #4.) That is the only way I can explain what happened. But Coke and Guiness and Google are also in the Top 200. So something else has to be in play.

I’d be curious to hear if anyone else has had a similar brand-cult experience… or can shed additional light on my brand evangelism experience.

– Jess

Julie Howard Switches Roles at the Department of Commerce

28 Mar

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Julie Howard, one of the stars at the Department of Commerce (Science and Technology) is moving over to a new role (description below). She also manages the Idaho Statesman’s “Starting Up” column (soon to feature a piece by Red Sky’er Jessica Flynn).

“The Department of Commerce has launched a new marketing division headed by Bibiana Nertney. The intent is to create a centralized clearinghouse of information for the public and for Commerce. Our mission is so broad – from tourism to economic development to science & technology to community development – that people who can speak to all of this (and provide internal support) was becoming increasingly necessary.

I took the opportunity to move over because I enjoy the marketing aspects of my job the most. I love to write and tell people what’s going on. I also have some ideas for how this marketing division can work. My exalted title is “marketing specialist.”

 – Robert

To compete or non-compete

27 Mar

Memories of my past TV life came back to me today when I saw this writeup by attorney Nicole Snyder on the Idaho Business Review about the Idaho Legislature passing a bill regarding non-competes…

Non-compete agreements are intended to prohibit individuals from competing with an employer after employment has ended. However, non-compete agreements are not always enforced by our courts. Historically, Idaho courts have refused to enforce non-compete agreements that go too far in restricting individuals from finding gainful employment with a new employer.

The legislation creates new rules for non-compete agreements. Now, certain types of restrictions that are commonly found in non-compete agreements will be presumptively valid. In addition, in many situations, the law will prohibit non-compete agreements that restrict competition for longer than 18 months.

This new law will have a significant impact on individuals and businesses who enter into non-compete agreements. It will also affect businesses that would like to hire someone who has signed a non-compete agreement with a prior employer.

As a television employee who had been restricted by a non-compete, and as a TV manager who had to enforce them, I can somewhat understand the argument that media companies make.

They see anchors and reporters as an extension of their brand – a brand which a lot of research, time, effort and money has gone into building, promoting and protecting.

But where does the company end an an individual begin? When does the desire to protect a company’s mindshare supersede the need to foster economic growth and entrepreneurship?

This bill has the potential to harm not only individuals but the companies themselves, and eventually, the economic development of our state.

The measure actually would put Idaho employers at a disadvantage in trying to recruit top candidates to come work here because workers could face such onerous sanctions when they left the job. And for a state focused on enticing companies to relocate or start up here, this would severely hamper their ability to hire a workforce from within our borders.

I’ll be curious to see how the area’s tech industry , which could be impacted the most, responds to this bill should the governor sign it into law.

[Thanks to my Red Sky PR partners Robert Deen for the nudge on this topic, and Steph Worrell for her insights]

– Jess