The ’30 Rule’ Rules

Screen Shot 2017-01-31 at 4.44.53 PM30% support you and will, no matter what. 30% won’t and probably never will.

It’s the 30% in the middle that needs convincing. The other 10% never seem to matter.

In almost half a century of building branded businesses, I find this rule to be such a great tool. I don’t even know where it came from. Heck, perhaps I made it up.

There is no better example than in politics. And now we may even be seeing a whole new wrinkle in the ‘30 Rule’ with the new Trump White House. Barely two weeks into his Presidency and already it is clear that the word ‘support’ in this definition is inadequate.

Clearly, some 30% do strongly support what President Trump is trying to do. He is doing what he said he would do over the last 18 months. However, there is the other 30% who do not support him at all, indeed they seem to openly hate him at some level. The 30 in the middle clearly have a bit of both. Enough of the ‘middle’ voted for him to win but my guess is that many are just waiting to see what happens before they confirm more support or not.

Interestingly, I see similar phenomena in the upcoming Super Bowl. Typically fans will fall into the three buckets with varying degrees of fanaticism for or against their team, and yes there is passion, but again there seems to be an unusually high amount of angst among the 30% non-supporters especially for the favorite, New England Patriots. Seems you either like them or hate them a lot.

Apparently, the stronger and more dominant those are perceived to be, the more intensely the detractors dectract these days?

I saw the same in the UK last year with Brexit. Those for it were relatively quiet and were able to rally a greater percentage of the middle bucket than the opposition. The opposition though was much more angry and vitriolic … and remains vigilantly so.

So what does all this mean to brand ed businesses and rocketing them?

Two things.

Firstly, go ahead apply the ‘30 rule’ to your brand market. Yes, I know the specific percentages may change somewhat from brand to brand but think about the principle. You have a brand-building budget. What is the best way to apply it to encourage rocket growth?

A little bit for everyone – lovers, haters, middlers? Costly.
Go after non-supporters who are tending more towards haters today? Good luck with that.

Go after lovers? Hmm, don’t you already have them and especially now as the more the haters hate, the lovers support. Possible waste of money.

What then?

Well, how about identifying the potential lovers in the middle and pushing them further into your bucket? That is turning them from supporters to advocates? Thereby expanding the love bucket and hopefully, in doing so, increase brand purchases and frequency. And also importantly provide a bigger antidote to the negativity from the hater camp.

This leads to the second thought.

Beware your brand detractors.

In this new digital world, haters are more vocal and gather as ‘victims-in-arms.’ They can and will mount noisy and emotional campaigns to the middle folk. This can be nasty, personal and disrupting. Trump’s case again.

Of course the term ‘haters’ maybe a tad strong for those negative to your brand. They may just be ambivalent which could be a worse problem. The point remains the same, however. Unless you see the dire need to somehow offset the negative bucket, then we would suggest you aggressively focus on your brand lovers and particularly potential lovers in the middle.

Regarding Trump brand? Well, it is quite simple. His Presidency’s promises are his brand promises. He was elected on those promises and his expected ability to fulfill them. At this stage, if he succeeds in doing what he says he would do, especially with jobs and security, then all is good. If not then his non-supporters will become even more emboldened to hate just that much more.

I do have a final word for him though, and this gets to the heart of his America First position. He has certainly painted the picture of a need to ‘strengthen America again’ but in deference to the globalists, rather than stop there we suggest that he start making the point that a stronger America means a stronger world. Strength starts at home and spreads. If the US is weak then the world is weaker.

What say you?

We at Rocket Branding love this stuff.

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Brand America. Bruised or Beaten?

Amercan Flag Map

 

America’s status at home and abroad is not at all clear. Is the America of the last century gone? The ‘global powerhouse’ done? The ‘American Dream’ over? Or just in a state of flux?

Dreary questions for sure. And yes we go through this every election cycle, but a lot of the mud flung on the walls by the PROTUS hopefuls is sticking. There are real concerns about America’s future across every demographic.

It’s absolutely astounding to me, that after a decade’s movement to moderate our culture (you know ‘everyone gets a prize’, ‘we need to sit with our enemies’, ‘share the wealth’, etc., etc.), the two earliest surging candidates, Sanders and Trump, are anything but moderate. Arguably they represent extremes on either side, and voters are turning out in record numbers to support them.

No question, anger at the seemingly dysfunctional government is driving this, and this isn’t new. Obama and the Democrats took over eight years ago with a kinder, happier mandate. Just two years later the Republican’s stormed back and won the senate as the ‘tea partiers’ pushed for dramatic change. Alas, not much happened to favor either agenda. The frustration grew.

Furthermore, today we have a world in deep doo doo. Global economies struggling, dire political and religious unrest, environmental decline, traditional cultures and ethnicities losing ground. And, closer to home, of course, adult children still at home. The list goes on. No matter your concern about the world and your life, it is a rather grim picture going forward.

So here’s the question or, at least, a question. What is the American ‘brand’ in all of this?

I see two factors – America’s role in the world and, the strongly philosophically, divided populace at home.

It’s possible that the first rules the second.

The world play is critical. The world has become a single marketplace where physical borders are less apparent. American Corporations aren’t necessarily American anymore but global entities with offices, plants and people working across time, space and currencies every second of the day. We may be upset with US companies moving facilities and jobs overseas but that’s how they have learned to compete in this highly leveraged and regulated world. And no one likes to talk about China’s influence on the global economy and our ridiculously high national debt.

No matter what your concerns, be they financial and personal security or cultural values, we need to look at the world to understand our future.

And on the personal level, the digital generations are now global. We communicate and share anywhere, anytime worldwide with a simple click or a touch. Our younger cultures are increasingly globally centric, connected and in many cases nationally ambivalent.

What the ‘baby boomers’ see as lost values the millennial sees as just the new norm.

Why even third world terrorist organizations recruit and terrorize anywhere they want via the World Wide Web.

The world is morphing into cultures beyond countries, and if America does not understand and succeed at the world level, it will not win on the home front…regardless of political doctrine.

So what happens to the Brand America? Can it remain the powerful symbol of a land and it’s people or does it have to change? Are we fierce, gun-toting, freedom fighters guarding our borders with our lives or are we open -minded individuals with a ‘cork -floating-on-the-ocean’ mentality? Or both?

As a traditionalist, I would rather not change but as a realist I believe we should deeply examine this question and find the right answer … and rather quickly.

One answer is to look into the emotional needs of the people. Americans of both parties are showing an angry reaction to their government and leaders.

Anger is not a good emotion to base a brand on. It usually does not last long. But what is behind anger can be useful. I believe in this case it is fear. People are worried about every aspect of their future and with arguably good cause. There is no good news or simple answers anywhere and leadership has been lacking.

So what do we do with this?

I would suggest that in a changing world with a deep fear of continuing to survive, the American Brand has to stand for two things to regain its power status in the world and continue to be the iconic, symbolic inspiration for its people.

The ‘brand’ has to be both TOUGH and FAIR.

 ‘Tough’ to compete and win on the world stage and ‘fair’ to optimize opportunity for all. It is extremely important that the world knows where we stand on key commercial or personal endeavors. We desperately need to take a hard line where we need to, but we’ll only gain respect and support, both domestically as well as abroad, if we are fair.

It’s quite simple. America has little trouble in the ‘tough’ department, but it does need to have precise positions and build its defenses to back them up.

The real breakthrough is in the ‘fair’ department. On the one level ‘lies, cronyism, lobbies, special interests’ all need to go. On another so do overreaching regulations and ‘PC’, controlling dictates like ‘the rich are bad’ and ‘everyone gets a prize’ and only certain ‘lives matter’. We all matter equally and can thrive equally if the game is fair.

If a new leader emerges who can execute on toughness and fairness and the American populace can see this happening, then I believe that Brand America for the next 50 years will shine through.

 What say you?

We love talking brands. Let us work with yours. www.rocketbranding.com.

 

 

 

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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, www.youtube.com/watch?v=aXPJNDVfBgU

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YOU and a BILLION-DOLLAR BRAND

Want your career (and life) to take off?

Everyone is a ‘brand’.

Let us rocket you just like we would a successful, fast moving billion-dollar brand.

Rocket Branding has helped built six so far with a few in the works.

 

 

The same principles apply… grow, focus and simplify, and four questions:

1.    Where do you want to be five years from now? If you know where you are going it is a whole lot easier to get there. Dream, ponder and go for it. A scrappy, 22 year old in Sydney, (down under) decided he needed to get to the USA and run a world class ad agency. I did with a series of 5-year rocket plans that took me through London, Hong Kong, and tons of client meetings and ad campaigns to get there.

2.    What are the three key actions that have to take place? Focus on what has to happen when? Not a laundry list, just the three critical ones.  

3.    What key decision makers do you need to influence to accomplish the five-year goal? Employers, bosses, influencer etc.  Again, not a laundry list, just the critical ones.

4.    What basic emotional connections do I need to have for my ‘brand’ to gain accelerated acceptance among these key decision makers? Really important. How should you be perceived? Life is often a series of snap decisions. Put your self in the shoes of the decision makers above and remember most people decide based on what’s in it for them and, often from what they see in front of them. So don’t dress and act like a low level salesman if you want to be a high level president.    

Yes, I know you may have heard some of this before and yes, at times we hear it from brands…. a lot of ‘but this’ and ‘but that’ – but trust us and really try it. The billion brands are still thanking us for forcing them to follow this type of rigor.

We have helped rocket many individuals and through our Traction Training process based on the above. So contact us and we’ll get you flying high fast, www.rocketbranding.com.

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ROCKET BRANDING MURDERERS and EMPLOYERS

If you want to grow a brand’s business FAST, have an extra hard look at language and context.

You can accelerate a brand’s acceptance and action if you understand the language that defines the context and messaging for the brand . “Just do it” defined Nike, “Where’s the beef?” defined Wendy’s, “We bring good things to Life” defined GE and so on.

And while we are in the midst of elections, I am constantly miffed at how politicians miss so many good language opportunities to rocket their ‘brand’.

Here are two examples:

In the last Presidential Election the incumbent party had to support a war…always a tough thing to do for an incumbent regardless of how necessary the war was. To his credit candidate Obama took the opportunity to present a fresh view on ‘global peace’ and ‘collaboration’. And in this case his “Hope and Change” theme was exactly right and indeed worked for the context and his brand message.

The Republicans may have had a chance to even the playing field somewhat by reminding all of why we were at war in the first place.  Our enemy had become known as ‘terrorists’. This seemed at the time to be a good explanation for these new style combatants. It also for some implied a cause or some kind of rationale for these individual’s actions…maybe they are not so dangerous after all.

The McCain/Palin ticket could have changed the language and possibly restored some support for their party. Instead of using the term ‘terrorist’ they could have boldly begun referring to them as what they actually were and that is MURDERERS. They murdered American civilians and vowed to do so, every chance they get.

Now I am not saying that this could have been the basis for their campaign theme but in spirit I do believe that if they had begun using the term ‘murderers’ they might have built a more meaningful rationale and emotional support for their side.

The second example is timely.

The key election issue now appears to be jobs…or the lack there of. With some 23 million people out of work and a lagging economy both candidates and their parties are building their case for getting more jobs. The Democrats seem content to just muddy the water for the Republicans by continually talking about how the Republicans are only pro rich and can’t be trusted… powerful maybe but not necessarily a ‘get more jobs’ stance.

The Republicans are trying to focus on ‘small business owners’ and how the Democratic policies make it difficult for them to prosper and hire. Why doesn’t the Romney/Ryan team change the language from small business owners to talk more about EMPLOYERS and just cut to the chase?

Simplistic I know but in this way they can force the right context for the biggest issue and not let it get lost or minimized by the side issues of size and wealth. Believe me if you are either looking for a job or want a robust economy then really who cares how big or small companies are… a job is a job especially if you do not have one.

Now Rocket Branding does not pick sides but clearly at least for this area there were good opportunities for the Republicans that they missed.

So look carefully at language when you are rocketing a brand. What do you think? For more on Rocket Branding and how it can help you visit www.rocketbranding.com.

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Rocket Branding a Romney win.

Again Rocket Branding is not judging who should win the 2012 Presidential Election and, again from purely a branding view we still believe that Obama has a strong  ‘brand’ following that he can use to regain momentum and win. (Please see my last Blog,” Rocket Branding believes the Obama brand is staged to Win,” Oct 9, 2012)

 

Arguably Romney’s recent debate success has boosted his chances and by all accounts his running mate, Paul Ryan, did well enough in the VP debate to keep momentum on their side for now.

 

With a few weeks to go and a close race, next week’s Presidential debate could be the decider. If President Obama can regain the emotional ‘brand’ connection with his base (and particularly like minded ‘undecided’ in the swing states) then Rocket Branding would still give him the edge.

 

So what can/should Mitt Romney do to win?

 

Mitt Romney, former governor of Massachusetts,...

Mitt Romney, former governor of Massachusetts, 2008 US presidential candidate. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

Ok so let’s ‘rocket’ the Romney ‘brand’.

 

Apparently according to the polls and pundits, there are some 5% or so of voters yet undecided who will most likely decide the election. Let us appoint them our SOB target (source of business or source of vote target in this case) and let’s look at what can make them fall Romney’s way over the next two weeks.

 

Rocket Branding is about creating emotional beliefs for a brand. So what emotional belief do we need to build among this SOB target?

 

‘Likeability’ is clearly a driving factor for creating emotional belief in elections and although Governor Romney has improved on this measure, the Obama brand still wins here across most voters.

 

‘Likeability’ though can be trumped by ‘trust’…especially if the stakes are high. Just because you like some one it does not mean you automatically trust them to do the right thing by you and here the results are mixed between the two.

 

The SOB target surely by now has heard all the arguments, gaffes and narratives. So why are they are still undecided?

 

The key may well be in whom they think they can trust? And again all Obama has to do is push the ‘rich’ button and trust becomes an issue for Romney and Republicans in general. Romney’s 47% gaffe only pours more fuel on this fire.

 

So there it is. Romney must create a belief among the SOB target that they can TRUST him. If he can stand tall and focus his passion on relevant issues and answers (jobs, jobs, jobs, security) and respectfully withstand the ‘rich/47%’ body blows from Obama then he has a chance. The secret for him is to be clear, substantive and human on the issues and importantly stay on the high Presidential plain and not get into ‘small ball’ with the petty gaffes and zingers. This is not unlike what he did in the first debate and what Paul Ryan did to a degree in his debate with Joe Biden.

 

Two heavy weight emotional brands going at it with nothing less than the leadership of the free world going to the victor. Such great theater!

Even Honey Boo Boo must be eager to watch.

 

Which brand do you think will win? Lets chat about all the Rocket Branding possibilities.

 

 

 

 

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Rocket Branding Believes the ‘Obama Brand’ Is Staged to Win

Rocket Branding is not judging who should win, but purely from a branding view it’s possible that President Obama may yet have the edge.

In many other democracies voters pick the party and the party picks the leader, but here we are most obsessed with picking the leader so the person becomes the choice.

Obama has done well personally but also because he actually performs more like a brand.

He is perfectly symbolic of a much larger set of beliefs based on some deep-set emotions among many American voters. And if you apply Rocket Branding thinking to the current race he is arguably in a great position to take off and win in the next 30 days.

“But wait” you say. “Romney just dominated the President in their first debate and clearly has the momentum”.

Despite that Obama can turn the momentum and win.

Here’s s why….

Rocket Branding is about creating emotional believes that cause the growth target to act on behalf of the brand – buy, vote, join etc.

Barack Obama appeared on the national scene four years ago with little if any credentials. But he did win in large part because he represented something that struck a deep emotional chord with many Americans. That was a pent up, dislike and frustration with the sense that America was ruled by those more dedicated to making money and wielding power… this, to the detriment of the average American and our neighbors throughout the world.

To this group Obama represented the chance to be ‘fair and friendly’ in a new “good” America where the greed, aggression and ‘crony-ism’ of the old “bad” America were no longer in play. In ‘good’ America everyone “joins hands, prospers and America is loved and admired all over the world”.

Now the strategist in me sees even deeper underlying emotions. In fact I wrote about it in my book. A lot of the followers of this new belief were women, mothers, younger generations and minorities. I believe they found a sense of more certainty and control in their lives with this new thinking. “If everyone can do well and everyone likes us, then we will be safe.” The traditional liberal media certainly fueled this thinking, Obama became our President and a new brand was born with ‘Hope and Change’ its banner.

Ok so fast forward to now some 4 years later.

Despite little progress with ‘Hope and Change’ nothing has really changed with the Obama brand. This group still loves the Obama brand and because it is based on these deeper emotions of certainty and control, he has been able to keep up the good fight even against the still visible enemy (congress etc.) and even despite the poor economy and a really dismal debate performance.

And here is where a brand will win.

President Obama is an emotional brand. Romney on the other hand is not. Obama’s followers like him emotionally. Romney’s followers do not really know him on any personal or emotional level. Romney certainly improved this and his ‘likeability’ in the debate but here’s the stunner, Obama’s likeability already ahead of Romney’s by a large margin actually went up after the debate.

A brand that people like and relate to will always do better and, especially, as in this case if the brand is the perceived underdog fighting the good cause.

Obama and his team have followed a focused and simple brand strategy (Rocket Branding principles). They have continually positioned Romney as another rich Republican same as the last, that only cares about the old, bad American principles of supporting the rich ‘1%’ and controlling the middle class. All Obama has to do is push the ‘rich’ button and all his followers line up ready to fight.

On top of this whether it was luck or brilliance is the fact that Obama stumbled and lost the first debate now gives him every opportunity to come back for the second debate and reestablish his ‘presidential’ perceptions. He can stand tall and forthrightly once again take on the mantle of fighting the rich and their leader Mitt Romney. The liberally biased media will create momentum for his strength and ‘underdog’ determination. Any logic regardless of how well presented by Romney will be drowned out and swept away by the hoards of hooping and hollering Obama lovers.

Again this is not about who should win but a classic look at how powerful the notion of branding is in the modern world and how useful the principles of Rocket Branding can be in accelerating a brand…even one as important as the leader of the free world.

So is there yet a ‘brand ‘ play for Mitt Romney that can turn the tide in his favor? Rocket Branding has a view on this? Tune into the next blog to find out.

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