Business 2.0

Values-based branding

A lot of the work we do at Zumio focuses on achieving clarity of brand and business objectives. One of the phrases that’s popping up in my conversations is “values-based branding” and I wanted to just drop a short note here expanding a little more about what I mean by that.

To me, this phrase has a dual meaning. The first: in order to deliver a great experience to the people you are serving, you need to be clear about the type of experience you are are trying to create – not just in terms of the detail (i.e. what you do), but the overall feeling that you are intending people to experience when they interact with your organisation.

The second aspect can be summarised by this cartoon by Hugh Macleod (inspired the Hughtrain manifesto):

The market for something to believe in is infinite (Hugh Macleod)

Instilling a deeper purpose and mission when conceiving the brand (and I’m talking about more than lip service here – I mean truly engendering the values across an organisation through action, and not just “tacked on” as an afterthought) can have a big impact. First inside, then outside an organisation.

This is related to the concept of “thick” value that I mentioned the other day in reference to Umair Haque’s post.

I’m not saying you have to have a “save the world” clause in your brand values (although if you can authentically embed such a mission, all power to you). Just some sense of a deeper purpose that people can draw on and rally around when they need that extra inspiration to deliver a great experience.

Business 2.0

Apple’s cult(ure) of design

I was thinking this morning about all of the hype surrounding the release of the iPad in the US and iPhone OS 4.0 beta from Apple. I agree with many commentators that it’s over the top, and that it would be great if some of that energy was channeled to more positive outcomes.

I’m not sure why this is, but I’m impressed by how Apple inspires so much creativity in others. This is despite Apple playing catch-up (with the iPhone OS 4.0) to many other mobile manufacturers. And how disproportionate the emphasis from developers is on developing sites and applications for the platform (given marketshare), despite the well documented issues with the walled garden approach from Apple.

I think this is a reflection of the “experience-driven organisation”, as Jesse James Garrett calls it, that Apple has cultivated. This culture of design inside the organisation expands beyond it’s boundaries, inspiring those outside the organisation to contribute to it. And it’s not just developers – I think this resonates with many customers. They too want to be part of this culture.

It’s a positive feedback loop. And this, I think, is one of the key drivers of Apple’s success, and some degree of the hype…

Business 2.0, Social media & networking

Building in meaning

Umair Haque’s post From Social Media to Social Strategy in the Harvard Business review (hat-tip: Michelle Williams) resonated with me, as I’ve been thinking along similar lines about building a more robust definition of “value” in a business context, beyond the financial bottom line:

… from Wall Street to Detroit to Big Pharma to Big Food to Big Energy. Our research suggests that 95% of organizations are unable to offer socially useful stuff that creates meaningful value for people, communities, and tomorrow’s generations.

Yet, most “social media” strategies have one or more of three goals: to “push product,” “build buzz,” or “engage consumers.” None of these lives up to the Internet’s promise of meaning. They’re just slightly cleverer ways to sell more of the same old junk. But the great challenge of the 21st century is making stuff radically better in the first place — stuff that creates what I’ve been calling thicker value.

I like the idea of “thicker” value – and I’ve also been wrestling with finding the right language to describe this concept. He goes on to say “Organizations don’t need ‘social media’ strategies. They need social strategies: strategies that turn antisocial behavior on its head to maximize meaning.”

This idea of “anti-social behaviour” is an interesting perspective on business attitudes and approaches. But that’s just a taste – the rest of Umair’s post is well worth the read also. Check it out…