Corporate Branding Digest, Feb. 24, 2015

What Brand Storytellers Can Learn from the Oscars
(PRWeek, 24.02.15)

Global brands and their creative agencies often cite films and the storytellers behind them as inspiration. But they need to sit up and take note of how the great auteurs of the film industry are creatively reimagining storytelling for a new audience that has a growing appetite for honest, powerful tales. An appetite demonstrated in this year’s nominations for the Oscars’ Best Picture, a list that values true stories alongside pseudo dramas and confected creativity.

The Pink Elephant in the Room
(The Wall, 12.02.15)

Branding and political parties are much more closely aligned than people think. Both are based on delivering clever dressings of selective truths designed to build a perception, drive a desire or solve a problem. What they truly represent however, is not based on what marketing agencies, clever creative or politicians tell people they represent.

7 Navy SEAL Sayings That Will Keep Your Team Motivated
(Forbes, 20.01.15)

Whether you are an entrepreneur, working in corporate America or building a startup, it is imperative to continually seek new ways to stay inspired and driven. Being a self-starter is a fantastic quality, but we are all human and get distracted by the minutiae of our day-to-day responsibilities.

Ask Yourself: Who’s Protecting Your Company’s Brand? (Video)
(Entrepreneur, 05.11.14)

To protect a brand, everyone in your company must understand what your brand represents, what it doesn’t and the experience it’s delivering. In this Google Hangout, branding expert Karen Leland and customer service expert Brad Smith explain how staff education can lead to positive brand experiences for customers.

“Control leads to compliance; autonomy leads to engagement.” —Daniel Pink

Corporate Branding Digest, Jan. 23, 2015

The Capabilities Your Organization Needs to Sustain Innovation
(Harvard Business Review, 14.01.15)

Why are some organizations able to innovate again and again while others hardly innovate at all? How can hundreds of people at a company like Pixar Animation Studios, for example, work together to produce blockbuster after blockbuster over nearly two decades—a record no other filmmaker has ever come close to matching? What’s different about Pixar that enables it not only to achieve, but also to sustain innovation?

Want a Powerful Customer Experience? Make It Easy for the Customer
(Forbes, 13.01.15)

We live in the period of options. Today there are more options for customers than at any point in history. For executives who understand today’s business reality of customer options customer experience is an emergency, not an afterthought. However today this is predominantly not the case.

The Best and Worst Branding of 2014
(Fast Company, 26.12.14)

Great branding is more than a logo. It’s more than a list of acceptable fonts, too, or even some 100-page PDF containing everything from measurements on proper margins to deep verb-subject-adjective explorations on writing the proper “voice.” Great branding is really the DNA of product or company, manifested through various media in ways that the public can recognize and understand.

How to Use Internet Memes to Market Your Brand
(, 26.12.15)

Marrying images to clever or heartwarming words can boost your organization’s online profile. Here are some techniques for making a positive, lasting impression.

“Every man is the architect of his own ambitions.” —Horton Bain

Corporate Branding Digest, Aug. 27, 2014

How Virtual Humans Can Build Better Leaders
(Harvard Business Review, 25.07.14)

The aviation industry has long relied on flight simulators to train pilots to handle challenging situations. These simulations are an effective way for pilots to learn from virtual experiences that would be costly and difficult or dangerous to provide in the real world.

Curse of the CMO: Responsibility Without Authority
(Forbes, 24.07.14)

It is a known curse of the working world, having responsibility without enough authority. It seems, however, that there is one corporate function that has responsibility without enough authority as part of its job description these days. I am talking about the CMO. (Other executives might disagree and think that I am making martyrs out of CMOs. If you are not the CMO and feel that you have even more responsibility with less authority than a CMO, let me know why you feel that way. If you are a CMO, let me know if you agree with my reasoning.)

4 Things Leaders Get Wrong About Creativity
(Inc., 07.07.14)

Design theory and branding professor Natalie Nixon says the reason we don’t see more creativity in business is that most leaders don’t have any idea what it is.

The Event You Should Plan for Your Team ASAP
(The Muse, 23.03.14)

You’ve probably heard tales of hack days at startups and major tech companies—time set aside for the engineers to spend working on whatever they want, with the goal being they build something new by the end of the day. And they probably sounded pretty fun: There was music, maybe food, everyone got to devote time to a cool project. Maybe you were a little jealous, felt a little left out.

“I know for sure that what we dwell on is who we become.” —Oprah Winfrey

Corporate Branding Digest, Aug. 7, 2014

How Do You Tap Into a Niche Audience?
(Forbes, 20.07.14)

All diehard fans of indie music share the same fear—that their favorite bands will become wildly popular. Mainstream success triggers a downward spiral. Commercialism sucks out everything that was once pure and original. When a former indie darling starts singing corporate jingles, fans hear funeral bells.

What Made a Great Leader in 1776
(Harvard Business Review, 03.07.14)

The ordinarily decisive George Washington was paralyzed by indecision. It was the summer of 1776, and the Continental Army was being routed by the British in New York. Sick from dysentery and smallpox, 20 percent of Washington’s forces were in no condition to fight.

21 Ways to Know You’re Leading a Great Team
(Inc., 24.06.14)

The question I most frequently get asked is “How can I tell—apart from waiting to see how years of decisions pan out—whether we’re any good at this?” Here’s the checklist I work through when I’m helping organizations assess their ability to meet in groups and make (and implement) great decisions. While it isn’t all-encompassing, it’ll give you a good start.

How to Help Your Employees Fall in Love with Their Jobs
(The Muse, 18.05.14)

Ah, love—that warm, fuzzy feeling you have when you’ve found someone you belong with. Wouldn’t it be great if your employees felt like this about working for you? Before I go any further, let me be clear: I’m not advocating anything creepy or inappropriate that would raise alarms within HR. This isn’t about romantic love—it’s about helping your employees feel inspired and connected to what they do.

“No matter how much falls on us, we keep plowing ahead. That’s the only way to keep the roads clear.” —Greg Kincaid

Why Sarah Palin Needs A Branding Makeover (Unless Her PBI, Personal Branding Idea, Is Kook)

[Originally posted on]

When Sarah Palin stormed onto the scene in 2008, there was no denying the power of her brand. Whether you loved her or hated her, whether you thought she was the future or rolled your eyes at her big-game hunting and comments like being able to see Russia from Alaska (or “see Russia from my house,” said Tina Fey when she was impersonating Palin on “Saturday Night Live”), you knew what she stood for, and you had some begrudging respect for her positioning as a hockey mom who didn’t believe in wasting a civic nickel. (You gotta remember the stuff on pigs and pork?)
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Corporate Branding Digest, July 31, 2014

The Cost of a CEO Honeymoon
(, 16.07.14)

This article is not about a romantic wedding ceremony or a luscious cake or even luxury travel. However, you will notice the similarities between these images and some corporate relationships with the CEO: something called “The CEO Honeymoon.” Take a look around at the next executive team meeting you attend. It is difficult to find an executive team member who is not, on some level, enchanted with his or her CEO.

3 Ways You’re Alienating Millennial Job Seekers
(Forbes, 10.07.14)

Millennial job seekers are not in awe of companies. Between the 2001 and 2008 recessions, they have literally grown up watching the economy struggle. Their company-loyal parents lost jobs after decades of service, their health benefits slashed or taken away completely. In some cases, they’ve seen their childhood homes sold following extended periods of unemployment. They know firsthand that employee dedication, loyalty and respect are not always reciprocal. And as such, they don’t want to repeat the sins of their parents.

How to Know When to Change Direction
(Entrepreneur, 06.06.14)

This is Silicon Valley. Startups, founders and VCs are everywhere. You can’t walk down the street in Mountain View or Palo Alto without bumping into one or two successful entrepreneurs. And yet, they usually have one thing in common: this isn’t their first rodeo. In other words, their initial venture wasn’t the one that stuck.

23 Things Great Leaders Always Do
(Inc., 13.06.14)

In honor of the Army’s 239th birthday, here are some of the top leadership lessons I learned from serving in and reporting on the United States Army.

“Balance suggests a perfect equilibrium. There is no such thing. That is a false expectation…. There are going to be priorities and dimensions of your life, how you integrate them is how you find true happiness.” —Denise Morrison, CEO, Campbell Soup

Corporate Branding Digest, July 23, 2014

Chart: When Making Decisions Most Leaders Trust Their Gut
(, 17.07.14)

“It’s not personal, it’s business.” Those words have been a popular mantra in the business world for decades. Contrary to popular opinion, however, many business leaders make emotional decisions that they justify rationally later.

World Cup Wisdom: Play to Win, Not to Lose
(Forbes, 13.07.14)

The World Cup holds many lessons on creating a game winning strategy that parlay well beyond the soccer field. Many times over the last month the commentators have expounded on whether a team is playing to win, or playing not to lose. It struck me how well these two approaches describe the mindset many people bring to their relationships, work and life.

The Power of Meeting Your Employees’ Needs
(Harvard Business Review, 30.06.14)

People feel better and perform better and more sustainably when four basic needs are met: renewal (physical); value (emotional), focus (mental) and purpose (spiritual). This isn’t surprising news, of course. Is there any doubt that when we feel more energized, appreciated, focused and purposeful, we perform better?

Contribute to the Greater Good by Taking These 3 Easy Initiatives
(Entrepreneur, 27.06.14)

When it comes to being an environmentally and socially responsible entrepreneur, you might feel like the power for real change is outside your limited reach. Yes, maybe you can’t institute the kind of changes a Fortune 500 company would be able to, but little alterations in your behavior can still have a huge compounding effect toward the greater good of your community (and thus the world at large).

“High expectations are the key to absolutely everything.” —Sam Walton

Can We Brand with the Singing Nun?

[Originally posted on]

The Internet’s newest buzzy phenom is Suor (Sister) Cristina, a 25-year-old Italian woman known as the Singing Nun. She won the Italian version of “The Voice” by a landslide, capturing 62 percent of the votes, which The Guardian pointed out is better than Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi did when elected. But more than that, she captured our imagination around the world—her first performance on the show quickly went viral on YouTube, racking up some 53.4 million views so far and counting.
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Corporate Branding Digest, May 22, 2014

Why Inclusive Workplaces Drive More Innovation and Better Performance
(Entrepreneur, 07.05.14)

Good managers want to build high-performing teams but it isn’t always clear how to do so. According to Catalyst’s global report, “Inclusive Leadership: The View from Six Countries,” released today, the answer is simple: Help your employees feel more included at work.

Create a Work Environment that Fosters Flow
(Harvard Business Review, 06.05.14)

Everywhere we look in business, timetables once measured by calendars can now be clocked by egg timers. So how can we keep up? In a word—and according to an ever-increasing pile of evidence—“flow.”

7 Bad Habits that Made Me a Terrible Boss
(Inc., 25.04.14)

It’s no secret. I’ve written many times about the mistakes of my youth. No, not the perm I had when I was a teenager or the time I jumped off a bridge into carp-infested waters. I’m talking about my early days as a middle manager just out of college, working as a shift manager in a shoe store when I was barely old enough to be legally married.

Recommended Summer Reading for Creative Leaders from the First Half of 2014
(Forbes, 24.04.14)

The new year has seen the publication of another crop of probing and provocative titles on economics, business and society. On the specific topics of creativity, leadership, and organizational and business success, 2014 has also already yielded some helpful titles.

“If you wish to be out front, then act as if you were behind.” —Lao Tzu

Corporate Branding Digest, May 21, 2014

Don’t Make These 4 Assumptions About Leaders
(Entrepreneur, 09.05.14)

Leading isn’t easy. In fact, there’s a reason why they say, “it’s lonely at the top.” Leaders must make decisions that serve the greater purpose of the company, thereby removing emotion and self-interest from the equation.

10 Kinds of Stories to Tell with Data
(Harvard Business Review, 05.05.14)

For almost a decade I have heard that good quantitative analysts can “tell a story with data.” Narrative is—along with visual analytics—an important way to communicate analytical results to non-analytical people. Very few people would question the value of such stories, but just knowing that they work is not much help to anyone trying to master the art of analytical storytelling. What’s needed is a framework for understanding the different kinds of stories that data and analytics can tell. If you don’t know what kind of story you want to tell, you probably won’t tell a good one.

The Secret to Delegating
(Inc., 28.04.14)

Understanding your strengths will help you divide and conquer. Here’s how to do it for the benefit of your team.

CEO: Setting Customer Expectations
(Forbes, 24.04.14)

I have always believed that companies—maybe even more so than people—should communicate what they stand for. One may be known for expensive products and another, as a discount operation. If in retail, does the firm have a liberal or conservative return policy? Is the company recognized as a great place for women to work and build careers? Does it respond quickly to consumer complaints? These are all examples of positions.

“Character consists of what you do on the third and fourth tries.” —James A. Michener

Corporate Branding Digest, May 19, 2014

The Best Leaders Are Humble Leaders
(Harvard Business Review, 12.05.14)

In a global marketplace where problems are increasingly complex, no one person will ever have all the answers. That’s why Google’s SVP of People Operations, Lazlo Bock, says humility is one of the traits he’s looking for in new hires. “Your end goal,” explained Bock, “is what can we do together to problem-solve. I’ve contributed my piece, and then I step back.” And it is not just humility in creating space for others to contribute, says Bock—it’s “intellectual humility. Without humility, you are unable to learn.”

What’s More Important to Give Employees: A Gift Card or a Pat on the Back?
(Entrepreneur, 02.05.14)

While many companies use financial compensation to reward employees, there are times when these rewards lose their effectiveness. Here is when to consider ditching the bonus for a simple pat on the back.

It’s Good for Companies to Have Women in Positions of Leadership but How They Get There Matters
(Forbes, 28.04.14)

What we know: Having women in the boardroom is a good thing. But are more women a better thing? That depends on how they get there.

Video: 3 Steps to Become a Better Leader
(Inc., 20.04.14)

LearnVest founder Alexa von Tobel and Samuel Bacharach, co-founder of Bacharach Leadership Group, demystify the essential skills of leaders and reveal how to instill them in yourself and your employees.

“It had long since come to my attention that people of accomplishment rarely sat back and let things happen to them. They went out and happened to things.” —Leonardo da Vinci

Corporate Branding Digest, May 16, 2014

Why Your Conversational IQ Matters and How to Boost Your Score
(Entrepreneur, 06.05.14)

Confidence and good decision-making have always been prized in the workplace. Having stellar conversation skills, not so much. For most of her 30-year career, executive coach and Benchmark Communications CEO Judith Glaser says having “conversation intelligence” was considered a lesser priority for leaders. It was a skill employers saw as too girly, too emotional, too unreliable and too detached from quantifiable results.

How We Built a New Company Culture
(Harvard Business Review, 01.05.14)

Too often, any thought of changing a culture, never mind rebuilding it, seems like a Sisyphean task; the weight of the status quo ultimately rolls back and crushes such efforts. I learned this while leading a turnaround of NPS Pharmaceuticals, a biotechnology company that now specializes in creating treatments for rare diseases. To save the 20-year-old company, I had to get it operating like a startup. In the process, I came up with six rules that could also help others change their cultures.

The New Role of Leaders
(Forbes, 18.04.14)

When Alfred Sloan created the modern corporation at General Motors, he based it on the military. The company was split into divisions, each with its own leadership. Information flowed up, orders went down and your rank determined your responsibility.

The 5 Things You Must Give Employees
(Inc., 18.04.14)

Odds are very high that many of your employees are disengaged, but you have the power to change that. Forget about awards and bonuses. Here are the five gifts that keep on giving.

“Never let your persistence and passion turn into stubbornness and ignorance.” —Anthony J. D’Angelo

Corporate Branding Digest, May 15, 2014

Are You Confusing Strategy with Planning?
(Harvard Business Review, 02.05.14)

Most people agree that the two strongest human urges are survival and procreation, but there is very little consensus on the next most powerful. I believe it’s the need to succeed. Humans hate to fail—hate it more than almost anything else.

The CEO of Intuit Says All Successful Leaders Do These 3 Things
(Business Insider, 25.04.14)

The best leaders are great communicators. They’re confident and focused. They’re open to change and inspire action. And according to Brad Smith, president and CEO of Intuit, they almost always do these three things …

The Singular Secret for a Leader’s Success: Self-Awareness
(Forbes, 17.04.14)

The National Advisory Council of a prestigious West Coast business school was asked what single quality they thought would be most valuable for their graduates to acquire as they graduated. The answer was self-awareness.

7 Ways to Put Your People First
(Inc., 16.04.14)

To be an effective boss you need to focus on your people. That allows them to focus on customers. It’s a virtuous circle, and here’s how to get it rolling.

“Simplicity is the most difficult thing to secure in this world; it is the last limit of experience and the last effort of genius.” —George Sand

Corporate Branding Digest, May 14, 2014

The Delicate Art of Managing Both Your Boss and Your Employees
(Fast Company, 08.05.14)

The best leaders are able to manage their employees while adapting to the needs of those higher up on the management hierarchy. Here are six ways to manage up and down at the same time.

The Status Quo Is Risky, Too
(Harvard Business Review, 02.05.14)

Are you ever frustrated by teammates who cling to the past while you try to introduce novel ideas or new strategies? If your ideas are met with choruses of “that will never work,” “we can’t take that risk,” “let’s just stick with the plan,” your teammates are likely falling prey to a common decision making bias that former Rotman dean Roger Martin refers to as Underestimating the Risk of the Status Quo. If your team’s strategy can be summed up by the English wartime slogan “Keep Calm and Carry On,” you need some new approaches to tackle their resistance.

Bob Mankoff: Management Is a Laughing Matter
(Forbes, 16.04.14)

There is an old saying in show business that goes like this: Life is easy; it’s comedy that’s hard.

3 Unconventional Ways to Inspire Employees
(Inc., 15.04.14)

The next generation of employees values meaningful work over money. Here’s how to give them what they want.

“The speed of the team is the speed of the boss.” —Barbara Corcoran