the two types of brands

random thoughts

“I’ve noticed a distinct pattern in businesses, essentially creating two distinct ‘groups’ of brands, entrepreneurs and business leaders.

Looking over brands and the people who got us as branding professionals excited to work on their brands and projects, I found one common characteristic: those who excited me were looking to the future. More to the point, they were creating the present starting with the future. Like a gold medal Olympic runner, they are motivated by the end goal, the finish line, the win for their country. In short, by that factor that doesn’t yet exist. This group of business leaders is one category of business people and businesses — a very exciting type of entrepreneur to work with since they look at things which don’t yet exist and work to bridge the gap between what isn’t yet. Oftentimes, these are seen as the visionaries, the ‘geniuses’, the ones who ignore (or redefine, or reinvent) the box everyone else is trying to think outside of.

The other category of brand and entrepreneur is the one who creates the future starting with the present. This approach uses today’s resources and looks to move those into the future. This tends to be a bit more conservative even though it can achieve incredible success.

The difference is this: referring back to the Olympic runner mentioned above, you would find a distinct difference between the runner that’s focused on right now, their current stride, how much they’re breathing, etc. and the one focused on the future. The difference is ‘the launch pad’ or ‘foundation’ of each. It’s almost a question of are they looking forward from now or looking back (reporting to us their findings) from the future?

The most commonly known example of these two types of entrepreneurs is the difference between Microsoft and Apple (under Steve Jobs). Microsoft used the present to create their future in business whereas Steve Jobs endlessly looked to what could be and started with the future dreams and aspirations and brought them into being. This mentality and orientation defined each company, its DNA and the overall culture each company was known for.

There’s a cousin of this second group (that creates the future starting with the present): it’s those who create the present starting with the past. But I am not speaking about those who are revivalists or curators of incredible vintage artifacts; I am referring here to those who refuse to change with the times or recognize new ways to attack a problem, and insist that the old notion or approach is somehow sacred and must remain inviolate, even when faced with insurmountable evidence that it is no longer effective.

The dividing line is, where does a project, brand, dream or vision start?
_If it starts in the past, it is most likely to become extinct as times change.
_If it starts in the present, the options remain more limited since one is using today’s available resources.
_If it starts in the future, it’s a wide open playing field and you’re likely ‘one of the crazy ones’ who might just change the world.”

David Brier branding expert


the best leaders make unforgettable first impressions

improve yourself

“Here are 14 things every leader should consider if they want to make an unforgettable first impression.  Read them carefully and ask yourself which ones you are doing and which ones you still need to introduce.

1_Warm greeting. Being nice, attentive and making good eye contact is what is expected. A leader’s ability to find areas of commonality with their employees by telling stories that humanize their persona increases their likeability factor.

2_Polished. Employees respect a leader that projects strong executive presence.  Beyond presence, they want body language that is non-threatening and a polished demeanor (everything from manner of speaking and actions towards others to dress code and grooming). When you are respectful towards others, employees are proud to be associated with you – whether in front of clients or family and friends.

3_Friendly; engaging. Not every leader comes across as friendly. In fact, they may be so focused on work to the point of social awkwardness. Leaders that genuinely care about their employees and make an effort to engage with them —starting with a powerful first impression— will go a long way.

4_Represents their authentic self. Being authentic is about consistently representing who you are and what you stand for — in everything you do and how you do it. When leaders can be themselves, others feel free to do the same without the pretense of asking permission.

5_Good listeners. The best leaders listen to their employees because they want to learn about them and from them. Employees that genuinely believe that their opinions and points of view matter to their leaders are the ones that fully engage.

6_Are interested in what matters to employees. Beyond listening, leaders that encourage employees to ask them the tough questions will quickly begin to build camaraderie and trust with their employees. Open-minded leaders that are interested in what matters to employees and make them feel safe to express the truth are the ones that build loyalty with their workforce.

7_Embrace differences and acknowledge accomplishments. Leaders that embrace individuality and differences in thought and know how to strategically apply them to stimulate growth, innovation and new opportunities for the business are widely accepted by their employees.

8_Knowledgeable. This may seem obvious, but never assume that the leader knows the dynamics of the business as much as you might think. Respected leaders are students of the business, constantly studying and looking for ways to improve, adapt and course correct to market conditions.

9_Accessibility. Leaders that are accessible inspire their employees and cultivate an entrepreneurial attitude that helps the organization fuel its competitive advantage.

10_Sense of humor. A leader that brings a positive uplifting attitude fuels excitement in the workplace. When a leader has a sense of humor, it balances the intensity that exists in a high-performance organization.

11_Vulnerability. Leaders leave a positive first impression when they don’t flaunt their power and influence. Vulnerability is a powerful driver of employee engagement that most leaders are too proud to reveal. We must not forget that everyone has problems, they are just packaged differently.

12_Consistency. A leader with a consistent style and approach towards others and the business is a mature leader who knows how to work well with others and is effective under pressure and in the trenches. A consistent leader is also the one that knows herself well enough to invest in the development of her personal brand – and has grown confident enough to live it every day. Consistency is important in a leader’s ability to earn the trust and loyalty of others.

13_Lead by example. Too many leaders observe the game, rather than activate themselves into  it.  When you lead by example, you set the tone for the organization and employees will respect you more for your ability and the energy you bring – rather than just your job title.

14_Motivational. Leaders today must be motivational and inspire hope. With the uncertainty that seems to never go away, employees need a leader that will help get them past the finish line. Employees enjoy working with leaders that know how to activate the best in everyone and will go above the call of duty for them.

What will make these 14 unforgettable first impressions even more powerful is your ability to continue applying them – consistently and continuously.”

Glenn Llopis for Forbes

the simple trick to achieving your goals

work smarter

“If you’re anything like the typical human, then you have dreams and goals in your life. In fact, there are probably many things — large and small — that you would like to accomplish. But there is one common mistake we often make when it comes to setting goals. The problem is this: we set a deadline, but not a schedule.

Instead of giving yourself a deadline to accomplish a particular goal and then feeling like a failure if you don’t achieve it, you should choose a goal that is important to you and then set a schedule to work towards it consistently. So set a shedule, not a deadline. That might not sound like a big shift, but it is.

Productive and successful people practice the things that are important to them on a consistent basis. The best weightlifters are in the gym at the same time every week. The best writers are sitting down at the keyboard every day. And this same principle applies to the best leaders, parents, managers, musicians, and doctors.”

James Clear writer


Peter Drucker

masters of design

Peter F. Drucker was a writer, professor, management consultant and self-described “social ecologist”, who explored the way human beings organize themselves and interact much the way an ecologist would observe and analyze the biological world.

Hailed by BusinessWeek as “the man who invented management”, Drucker directly influenced a huge number of leaders from a wide range of organizations across all sectors of society.

He died in November 2005, just shy of his 96th birthday.