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Archive for the ‘Branding’ Category

First, a quick explanation for this post – many of you are aware of another site where I am regularly posting (SteveWoodruff.com), and promoting a service I provide called Clarity Therapy.

It’s a practice I have loved offering over the last few years, and it may become important to you or someone you know. Can you give me a minute to tell you the story of how this Clarity Therapy thing has come about??

In my client-vendor “matchmaking” work here at Impactiviti, I noticed that many of my vendor/partners were struggling with putting forward a clear (and differentiating) offering and message. So I began to consult in order to help them “discover their fit” in the marketplace. Quite unintentionally, this began to spread into helping individuals who are in career transition, because the need is the same – figuring out your professional DNA; defining your “sweet spot” role or offering; telling an effective story; having an effective verbal business card to hand out.

Increasingly, I’m serving as an outside voice to help individuals and companies unearth their purpose and define their fit. Turns out that this is a massive need, especially in turbulent times.

So – a coaching practice was born, called Clarity Therapy. And it’s based on this one core reality:

You can’t read the label of the jar you’re in

I’m mentioning all this so that when you see various posts from that site, emphasizing message clarity, professional identity, branding and differentiation, etc. – you’ll know why.

A number of your vendor/partners and some of your colleagues-in-transition have already had very productive in-depth sessions. And, as you might guess, making network connections based on the professional direction uncovered is always a big part of what I do.

If you want to learn more about the service (half-day or full-day; pricing; expectations) – here’s a quick overview. And, I put out a fun little single-topic weekly newsletter called Clarity Blend – feel free to view a sample and subscribe here.

Thanks for listening. Since I am essentially working on two (inter-related but distinct) practices, I thought I’d provide an explanation so there’s no confusion. And, if you need help with professional direction – I’m your guy. :>}

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Every vendor/provider should seek to be outstanding in at least three ways:

  1. An outstanding track record of success and great service;
  2. An outstanding and focused set of clearly-understood offerings;
  3. An outstanding message that makes clear what you’re about.

Many companies are good at 1., but not so good at 2. and 3. For example, here is the generic and unfocused language used by one training company I recently found on the web:

generictrainingUmmm…what’s the differentiating message here? None. Nada. Generic, vague biz-speak (they even claim in the text above that they “don’t subscribe to the routine or generic” – ha!). It’s a bad case of JATS (Just Another Training Supplier) marketing.

If your description could fit just about any other company you’re competing with, then you don’t stand out. You need to discover your fit in the marketplace and express it with clear differentiation.

I’ve worked with many of my training partners to help them define their offerings, refine their message, and focus their marketing (see Clarity Therapy). If you need something better than generic branding, let’s talk. Commodity messaging won’t make you stand out, even if you are outstanding.

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Your Personal Brand

Do you have a “personal brand”? I say Yes – whether you know it or not! A thought-provoking recent post on my StickyFigure marketing blog.

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YAYYYY!

Finally, after 10 websites ranging from acceptable to mediocre, I arrived at one that I actually LIKED the instant I arrived.

gene-home-sm.jpg

Somebody working for Genentech “gets it.”

Why did this home page get me excited? Because it has immediate emotional and aesthetic appeal. The design is not imposing, but attractive – the prominent (patient) face graphic, the pleasant color combinations, the subtle graphical design, the non-intrusive menu structure…it all just “works.”

In the graphic shown above, I captured one opened-up pull-down menu, but when you arrive at the site, the horizontalgene-nav.jpg menu bar is not open until you roll over it. You simply arrive at a captivating image, with one very cool navigational element I’ve never seen implemented quite this way before – a little box with 3 crucial interest areas (Patients, Science, Our People). Perfect.

When you click on the main categories in the horizontal nav bar, a very nice Flash-based graphic (with more great photos!) replaces the big graphical field, and the sub-menu navigation is easy and intuitive. Once you get into the sub-menus, the graphical design theme maintains its attractive simplicity, and you get into more robust paragraphs of text. Yet the use of white space is strikingly well done.

The patient graphic on the home page changes each time you go to the site, and there is a link to a patient story – lots of patient stories (eleven, to be precise)! Each of these is well-designed and implemented – you get a quick summary, then the opportunity to run a video of the story. Beautifully done.

gene-story-sm.jpg

What else to say? A+. Every other pharma company can learn from this site. Well done, Genentech – you’ve raised the bar!

Prior website reviews:

Wyeth

GSK

Pfizer

J&J

Novartis

Sanofi-Aventis

Abbott

BMS

AstraZeneca

Merck

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I noticed a big advertisement today in the Wall Street Journal for Covidien, the medical device company recently spun off from its former Tyco Healthcare identity.

I think it was good to separate Covidien from Tyco (which had a number of unrelated businesses under its umbrella), and the name Covidien, if not all that inspired and memorable, is at least acceptable. After all, it is a difficult challenge these days coming up with new names.

But the logo and tagline left me snoozing. Covidien has just joined the Branding Zzzzzzzz list

covidien.jpgI believe there is a virtue in simplicity, when it comes to logo design. But this treatment is tired. Yet another uninspired takeoff on the medical Red Cross look. Yawwwwwnnn. A company in the pharmaceutical training space that I know quite well, MedSN, did something similar a while back. At least they used a few colors. The Covidien treatment, with a few variations of blue, looks like it never got beyond a Powerpoint storyboard. Let’s take a few blue shades of magic marker to a Swiss flag.

And the tagline, Positive Results for Life, is yet another retread from the pharma/healthcare/biotech bargain bin. Some of the most uninspired and insipid taglines have been adopted by our industry, all vaguely promising health/life/goodness in a way that is utterly non-differentiating. I’m reminded of a phrase from A Christmas Carol, where young Ebenezer Scrooge gives a response that is “terribly safe.” That’s what these taglines are. With an emphasis on both words.

I don’t yet know who came up with this logo. Maybe, after I finish this post, I’ll look it up. But let’s take a flight of fancy here, and imagine we’re in the boardroom, as the agency gives its explanation/rationalization for this look:

“The background field of blue represents the universal desire for long life and health, tapping into the singular global aspirations that a healthcare provider such as Covidien will be a premier provider of positive results toward that end. Since the earth is mostly water, and water represents life, we encased the logo in the uplifting presence of a sea of calming ocean blue. Of course, the medical cross symbol is recognized across the universe as a positive and aspirational symbol of well-being, and now it is softened and yet heightened by being re-stylized in enriching shades of health-inducing cerulean, leading the thoughts and feelings of the onlooking world to pleasant deliberations of the intersection of medical devices and ongoing health. The merging of life-giving blue palettization, the subtly blatant medical undercurrent, and modern encapsulations of individual aspirations will create the inevitable conclusion that Covidien creates positive results for life.”

And now, rewind a day into the design studio as the logo and tagline are being feverishly finished off for the next day’s presentation:

“Did you whip that thing up in Powerpoint?”

“Yeah…took me about an hour and a half. I billed 45 days of creative time for the team, however.”

“Looks like a couple of colorized Band-Aids to me.”

“Ain’t life grand? I came up with that this morning while fixing a shaving nick.”

“And did you pump something out of that funky ObviousTaglines.com website?”

“Oh, yeah – it was great! I just told it ‘healthcare’, selected a couple standard keywords, and out came ‘Positive Results for Life’. It’s a beautiful thing. And, I now have 10 others we can use for our next client. Anyone want ‘Your Health is our Life’s Work’? How about ‘Because a Healthy Life is our One Purpose’? Or ‘Your Life is our Promise’? I got this stuff down!”

All right, I made all that up. I’m sure a bit more effort went into this. But I wonder…how much did this branding cost? And why is it so…undistinguished?

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Trade Show Branding

I recently had a post published on the Small Business Branding blog, my 10th post on that site thus far.

It is on the theme of Branding at a Trade Show – a theme fresh on my mind, having just returned from a conference with an exhibit hall last week.

All of my posts on the SBB site can be accessed here.

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