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.


Screen Shot 2015-11-03 at 10.42.22 AMNow it’s getting interesting. Last week’s GOP debate was different. Are we seeing the Republican ‘brand’ beginning to take shape? How so and so what?

I’ll stick my neck out once again and say that ‘brand’ is the key determinant in political success today. I predicted Obama to win over Romney because he was a ‘brand’ and Romney was not. After the first debate I predicted Trump to remain on top, because he is his brand. And he continues to lead much to the chagrin of many political pundits.

It maybe a little early to tell, but you could also argue that other GOP hopefuls, like Carson, Rubio and Cruz, have started to become brands. Fiorina may also have big branding potential (though I’d advocate a more ‘Carly’ emphasis) while Bush’s brand, even with all the awareness, has not hit the mark as yet.

So why has a brand become so important to politics and how does this relate to Republicans?

Political brands are very simple. Politicians are people. They have names and they stand for something. Their ‘brand’ emerges when you recognize their name and it conjures up an image. If that image is relevant to your beliefs, then advocacy and favorable voting follows.

On the flip side, of course, having a name that few recognize or an image that is irrelevant or worse negative, keeps you off the stage. And, in this day of social media, where ‘gotchas’ and ‘get ‘ems’ travel faster than light, having a strong brand is almost the only defense. This is why two of the strongest brands in the race so far, ‘Hillary’ and ‘Trump,’ have been able to withstand media onslaughts that would have crippled lesser branded entities.

Two things have happened in America over the last two decades. Political Parties have lost their credibility and humanity has snuck in. There was a time when voters pretty much followed the party and, whoever was their Party nominee for President, usually got the support of the faithful. Politics was mostly political and boring.

Things have not been going so well, however, and the constant bickering and little progress in Washington have left the populace with a much-renewed interest in who is actually going to make things better. Neither party seems to have had the answer. So we look for real leadership. The question of who is going to be the President is looming larger than ever … and their brand credibility is going to be a deciding factor.

But from last week’s debate, a new brand may well have shown itself. For the first time the Republicans seemed to be speaking with a ‘party’ voice. Clearly there were many individual assertions of greatness, but the overall GOP message of “less government and smarter policies” was echoed across the lengthy stage of candidates and the chorus of moderator rebuke seems to have shown a unified GOP bravado.

Now, of course this is a long race but it is going to be really interesting to see how each candidate’s ‘brand’ emerges on both sides. And it will certainly help the GOP candidate if the party can for the first time, in a long time, provide a clear and hopeful brand premise that will engage the voters.

We’ll be watching and reporting. What say you?

We are brand growth experts and would love to help you grow yours.
Ian Miller,


TrumpSix years ago I predicted Obama would win over Romney, largely because he was a ‘brand’ and Romney was not.

Tonight, Donald Trump takes on 16 co-hopefuls for the GOP nomination on a Fox televised debate. Great theatre. Trump, a non-Washington candidate, is ahead in the polls so he will be center-stage, surrounded by a sea of typical, dark suited, red tied politicians, who will look and sound pretty much the same. No one looks or sounds like Trump.

Now I am not smart enough to predict that he will be the next POTUS, but I can say that he is for now the lead GOP and unless someone creates a news worthy, sound byte, moment like Reagans ‘there you go again’ to Carter and/or, of course, Trump does not get trumped on some issue, then the Trump ‘rocket’ will keep shooting up.

This, of course, has very little to do with substance and, like it or not, this is the new way.

Our digitized world is based on shock headlines and stunning images. Fresh, new relevant brands get media attention and win quickly.

Obama was such a brand. His name was unique and gained awareness quickly. His story was simple and relevant … first African American, educated, articulate with a promise of ‘better’.

Romney was not such a brand. He looked and sounded like the typical Washington politician and his story was not clear. Even his name had little brand cache.

Trump knows all this.

The political pundits have been salivating over the chance to pick apart Trump’s policies, but quite frankly he is way too media savvy to let them.

Trump is a media brand. Say the word Trump and just about everyone can see a picture of him and the picture isn’t bad for the times. This tough, independent, successful businessman wears a suit and leads. His name is on buildings. He has been the ‘boss’ star of his own popular TV show. He owns beauty contests and knows how to ‘play the stage’. My guess is that his aided awareness is over 80% in the US. He has been in the mass public eye probably more often than all other candidates combined.

Interestingly his unique brand persona is actually now working for him. Brand awareness is one thing but if an audience can feel a little pain for a candidate and relate to see his or her humanity then the brand relationship grows fast. Trump’s weird hair and bruff, straight-talk style, have not stopped him so far and now if nothing else it keeps the cameras on him and people curious.

And at the end of the day, a simple brand story survives. For the less politically engaged voters, the Trump brand can easily be seen as a regular guy taking on Washington and winning, as opposed to ‘more-of-the-same failed’ politicians. The political insiders and pundits, who marvel at polls and seeing a continually growing Trump candidacy, will change their sage comments from negative to positive real fast.

Now my intent here is not to support or even predict the winner. I am just commenting on how in this world of politics a candidate’s brand, or lack there of, is the new X factor in predicting success.

And if I was in the Hillary Clinton camp right now I would be quite concerned about her brand persona. No question she has brand awareness but what is her story other than her e-mail issues etc.? How is she relating…first female President? Maybe?

What do you think? Let’s kick it around. In a few hours we can sit back and enjoy the spectacle.

We are brand growth experts and love to help do so. Look us up at and lets chat.

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