The creation of fast acting, upwardly accelerating, new world finding brands. The brand strategy that forces every ounce of growth out of the brand and then some more and right away. This is Rocket Branding.

Branding Greece … Philotimo Under Fire

IMG_1578 copyA month in Greece has, not only afforded me a front row view of their ‘Crisis’, but also a rare opportunity to witness a unique culture cope with some of the toughest financial and indeed social decisions in modern times.

A financial crisis, to be sure, but also a classic Greek drama, played out on the world stage, as cultures and passions collide and a very proud race has a hard look at their future.

More than once I was asked, as a brand professional, what effect all this may have on the perceptions of Greece, as it relates to tourism. Without growing revenues from tourism, it’s very difficult to see how the Greek economy can ever rebound.

Being a visitor with perceptions from the news, it ‘s easy to conclude that this Crisis was not good for the Greek ‘brand’. Typically, economic instability and political unrest will scare tourists away and, more importantly, deter the tourism industry from references and investments.

Moreover, as you consume the news, it’s also easy to build a world-view of Greece as a crazy place where their newly elected government is scolding their EU partners and threatening the ‘Grexit’. This, after receiving some $300 billion bail out funds from them and demanding more, with even less austerity. Greece, with high public spending, lives beyond its means and now wants to continue that way with more funding from others.

Yes, the Hellenes, like no other race in history, will fight to preserve their way of life (generous pensions et al), but as most pundits agree they will have no other choice but to comply. This week’s referendum will certainly be telling.

However, after four weeks of getting to know the Greek people, I have quite another view on the Greek brand and what I believe they should do with it. In fact, I believe that the Crisis is a perfect context to rocket it.

Greeks love to talk and debate. Every day, often late into the night, I had the chance to hear the different views of simple villagers, urban professionals, students and, of course, taxi drivers.

Two things stood out for me.

Firstly, how calm and basically sanguine they were about the Crisis. Confronted with even more taxes, cuts and unemployment, one way or another, they believe that things will work out. Until this week, without the headlines, you may not even know there was a major crisis. They have preserved their lifestyle for centuries, against all odds and will confidently continue to do so.

Of course, this could be different as today’s deadline hits. But for now there is still positive optimism.

The second and certainly most profound thing I learnt is summed up in the Greek word philotimo. I will not attempt to translate it for you. The best scholars in the world have tried and failed. I will tell you that every Greek understands it instantly. It is a philosophy that suggests how to represent your self and conduct your life and it has within it all the right human qualities — honor, courage, respect, dignity, doing the right thing and more.

And, even though most understand that their bargaining power at the EU table might be weak, they have entrusted their new Government with philotimo (to do the right thing by them) and believe that the EU and the rest of the world will, in time, see that a Greece, the way it is, should remain that way.

Yes, Greeks will agree that their financial systems are broken, and that they are woefully lax on paying taxes and forcing their leaders to be accountable. But they are never going to be like a Germany or any other managed society. At this stage, they want a way to still have the means and freedom to nurture their families and homes without being judged by the commercial standards of others.

They would much rather grow their own fresh food and serve it to you at their restaurant than run a McDonald’s. They would much rather have their families nearby than moved overseas for work. They would much rather have their beautiful beaches, islands and mountains controlled by locals than faceless corporations or greedy oligarchs.

Yes, this may appear selfish but in an increasingly homogenized world, where chemicals and sugar are our main food ingredients and substance is losing to hype, there is a wonderful, refreshing authenticity to Greece, the people and their philotimo.

The world needs this haven. And if that means giving them a little financial slack to preserve it, then so be it. These people and their philotimo, to me, should be the heart of the Greek brand. The beautiful islands and beaches will always certainly attract travellers but it is the people, their passion and love of life that makes the experience remarkable and memorable.

Travellers the world over should come to share in and enjoy this genuine, refreshing Greek experience with its real lifestyle, natural vistas, history, people and passion.

An authentic experience in an increasingly unauthentic world.

Oh and while you are about it, make sure you stop by the road side café at the Isthmus of Corinth … the best, most juicy souvlakia anywhere. Opa!

PS. There is a terrific video on Philotimo …well worth seeing,


New TEch Blog PM copyBranding is the most undervalued ROI asset for a new technology based product or service.

Yet with a little creativity and strategic rigor, branding is one of the easiest, cheapest and quickest assets to build.

Snausages (a new doubly extruded pet treat) was created over a slice of pizza, Celebrex (a new cox-2 inhibitor) on a napkin over lunch. The new, Old Spice (advanced deodorancy) from a couple of focus groups.

Branding is the short hand surrogate for the technology. Would you rather put sucralose or Splenda in your coffee? Would you rather send a ‘fax’ or a facsimile transmission? Do you ride a Harley or a motorbike?

Branding is also an opportunity to create new category language. Celebrex was the first new ‘smart’ drug. ‘Social collaboration’ was the new space for content management and intranet software. Being the first or best of a new space is a great positioning for a new technology. It tends to bring in the media, which loves to name and anoint new categories …4X4, SUV, laptop, cross trainer, designer drugs and so on.

A well-positioned and designed brand identity (name, logo, tag, message) will accelerate acceptance and, importantly promote advocacy (and buzz) among key customers, consumers and their influencers.

New technology has created revenues and market share for centuries with examples in every category … medicine, food, transport, fabric etc. and now with the digital age new technology applications are producing new products and behaviors at an unprecedented rate.

So why do so many new tech brands fail to gain traction and deliver their early revenue and ROI goals?.

Three reasons.

1. The ‘What it is vs. What it does’ syndrome. New technology creators are brilliant. New features and functions can be world changing. Unfortunately most of the world is too busy and occupied to notice. The trap is in believing that all you have to do is tout the features …the what it is and people will flock to it.

The truth is that most people don’t care as much about what it is as what it does for them. Does it it make their lives, easier, healthier, happier? And even further does it provide an emotional or psychic reward? And even further what does it allow me to give up?

2. Creative Fear. One of the great ironies I come across is how creative, technology innovators, can be and yet how uncreative they think they are in branding. Scientists, engineers, inventors, invariably feel that they are not equipped to create brands. No so. In fact in my experience some of the most creative branding exercises have been conducted with exactly that group.

I hate to break the myth but branding is simple logic and common sense…typically two of the key strengths of creators.

3. Asking the wrong questions

Here’s the magic. Take notes. This is a product of 35+ years of building successful brands and particularly technology fueled brands. It is called Rocket Branding℠.

It’s all about growth, focus and simplicity.

Understanding what the role of the branding is in building company growth, focusing on the target that will contribute most and quickest to the growth path and if it isn’t simple no one cares.

Answer these 5 questions and you will be on your way to branding nirvana.

1. What revenue are we looking for over the next 3-5 years?

2. What target consumer or customer is going to be our most important revenue generator?

3. What does our new technology enable them to do better or more of?

4. How are they going to feel in using our technology?

5. What words, thought, ideas best describe or symbolize that experience?

Start here and go for it. You’ll be surprised how creative you can be.

For more on this thinking and cases read my book Rocket Branding,buy at, visit and contact us if you’d like some help.


 My favorite question on my weekly Chicago radio show is what is the one thing today that separates success from failure, winners from losers?

Here are quotes from three recent guests who work across a broad cross section of companies and industries.

  “Putting your head down and getting your work done. It’s all about execution.”

The key point Kristin Barrett VP Chicagoland Entrepreneurial Center makes when seeing what creates success with her 300 high value start-ups at the 1871 incubator.

  “ When there is something in front of you that you can do, do it. Execute and learn”

Advice Kent Gladish, Senior Marketing and Sales Director Technology and Manufacturing Alignment Association provides when counseling his the 1,000-member organization on moving ahead and being successful.

“Its one thing to have a great idea but without a strong bias to action and execution the idea is typically under-served and unrealized

Observations from Bruno Gruaz a senior executive and Guest Expert Host on the show who counsels company owners on sustainable growth and prosperity.

Get the point? It ‘s all about getting it done. Executing. Making it happen.

Why is this? Are we not in a new world of digital productivity capabilities that enable us to get connected, get information and get action anywhere in the world, any time of the day?

So how has not getting it done, become such a factor?

I’m actually not surprised at this. In working across a wide range of people, industries and generations I see a new syndrome emerging, which I call the ‘Comfort Tunnel’.

Bit obtuse yes, but at least for me it attempts to describe the way some people tend to work today. It is very easy to spend a ton of time on-line sitting at a computer, connecting, conversing, scheduling. It is engaging, comfortable and seemingly ‘busy’ work.  Getting a little bored? It’s easy to jump on Twitter or check into Facebook or play with your calendar.

The next thing you know the day is gone. This is a comfortable, narrow existence, which tends to perpetuate work with little to show for it. You feel like you are working but are things really getting done?

So what is the answer? How do you get more done?

Again my answer is simple. Successful execution is all about a proper plan that is focusing on growth and simplicity…as often said…if you don’t know where you are going, you will never get there.

Focusing on a 3-5 year growth plan gives you a clear way to organize your plan and actions. If actions or decisions you make do not contribute directly to the growth plan at any point, then don’t do it.

And then, if the actions aren’t simple and instantly relevant in today’s high ADD and no time world, trust me they won’t work.

And the good news is that if you adopt this approach then you can still be in a ‘comfort tunnel’ but just much more productive.

For more about how to create a successful and simple plan see or email






Not all start-ups are equal.

Some rocket. They attract funding, rise fast, and have a good grasp on profits and future growth.

I call them SMART UPS.  

While others, with arguably as good a chance, tend to stall on the launch pad and never really get off the ground.

They remain plain old START UPS.

What distinguishes a SMART UP?

Well as the name implies they tend to make smarter decisions. Not always earthshattering or mind-boggling decisions but certainly smart ones.

Smarter decisions especially when it comes to what matters…the three F’s. Funding, Focus and Fuel.

Funding goes to a start up that has a focused growth plan and the marketing fuel to make it happen.

Unfortunately many start-ups are big on explaining their unique product or service and painting a glorious picture of the opportunity … just watch Shark Tank.

The smart ones, the Smart-Ups, however also produce a very clear plan on how they are going to market themselves.

Investors are not stupid. They can understand the ‘size of the prize ‘ so to speak but if they do not see that well thought out plan on how the marketing funds will be deployed then they are very reluctant to participate.   Strip it all away and investors these days, quite simply, want to know why the offering is unique and appealing, what the company or brand message is and how the marketing plan will deliver a high and sustaining ROI.

We proffered this on my new radio show The MAD ROCKET Business Show and the phone lines and email lit up.

So my co-host (Mark Imperial) and I created the MAD ROCKET process for converting Start Ups to SMART UPS by helping:

1. Define the growth plan that will dictate the focused initiatives

2. Create the emotional brand positioning and messaging that will drive immediate acceptance

3.  Develop the detailed marketing plan that will ensure the right actions and ROI.  

The principles and techniques behind this MAD ROCKET end-to-end system utilizes the proprietary Rocket Branding℠ process that has already helped launch over 300 SMART UPS around the world including some in the billion dollar stratosphere and the some of the most successful new products in the CPG, Technology and Health, Fashion sectors in history with names like, NutraSweet, Splenda, Celebrex and Old Spice (Yes even this dusty old name needed a new start up).

Please feel free to contact us at or for further information on MAD ROCKET and how we can help you become a soaring SMART UP.

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A recent odd travel experience highlighted for me how difficult it can be to launch fast growing brands today.

I was retained by airport TSA agents who informed me that the x-ray had detected a “groin anomaly’ and I needed to go to a secure room.

Suffice to say that after a thorough investigation and, a herculean effort on my part not to make a slew of jokes, they let me on my way.

Now I was more than happy to immediately “drop trou” and show them that their fears were quite unfounded but no, I had to go through an extended pat down and questioning. They had their roles and I had to have mine.

So what does this have to do with branding today?

Well two things.

1. Caution

We now live in very cautious world.  What we say or do in public is open to massive amounts of scrutiny and judgment and, in many situations we have to be very careful about how we behave, act or react. The same goes for a brand that competes in any arena where caution is now common. E.g. food, ingredients, health, financial, travel, children and so on.

2. Watching

With the Internet, cameras, drones you are being watched, recorded and classified. So is your brand.

No, this isn’t about ‘big brother’ or sinister plots and it is in no way suggesting that brands should not be spontaneous, flippant or even irreverent, if that is what the brand strategy calls for.

This is just a reminder to carefully assess the mindset of your core customer or consumer and the way life is causing them to make decisions relative to your brand.

And especially be very careful with competitive positioning focuses on Trust or Freedom.

‘Trust’ can easily be broken if there is a ‘gotcha’ moment or inconsistency from one brand connection to another.

‘Freedom’ is an incredible promise as an anti dote to caution and concern but this had better be legitimate or it can become an albatross around the brand’s neck…. any one for sea cruise on a sick ship…just ask luxury cruise ship how freedom on the high seas is working for them?

What say you?

Let us help you work through this. Visit







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