Friday, March 26, 2010

Jason Miletsky and the Brand-ed Experience

I'm pleased to announce that marketing superstar, Jason Miletsky, is talking with me about lending his voice to Brand-ed.

Part of creating the tone of the book is threading the voices of successful and savvy marketers and educators
around the question, Can a "Branding Experience" improve public education. Jason has graciously agreed to consider being part of the conversation. THANK YOU, Jason!

Miletsky is a successful author and CEO of Mango! Marketing, a marketing, PR and social media communications agency. He has authored a new book on getting yourself noticed and raising your personal profile using online and offline techniques.

My message of personal branding and marketing for school leaders fits with Jason's view of developing networks, another subject close to my heart for educators!

“People don’t realize how many opportunities they have, every day, all the time, to market themselves,” said Miletsky. “Whether you’re on the job hunt, looking for new clients, selling a product or service, trying to grab a bit of fame – even if you’re just looking for a date, it all comes down to marketing yourself better." It's my belief that school leaders need to hear that message and to act upon these principles to build an authentic LEADERSHIP BRAND that leads to improved culture, performance and resources for schools. Just ask my co-author Eric Sheninger, whose leadership brand is going to be featured today again on the CBS news at 5pm in NYC!

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Thinking Leadership Brand in the School Brand Experience

Once upon a short time ago there was an internet of web 1.0 which was pretty much a one way street of communication through static websites. Many of today's school leaders, were around for the birth of this technology in the nineties. Our fellow educator colleagues of today, those of the Gen X or Y generation, were students in the time web1.0 was born.

It hasn’t taken long for the internet to become participatory and to throw a generational range of career professionals together in its constantly churning wake. The interactive, “two way street” quality of web 2.0, may not have to house a generational divide. Web 2.0 can serve as a rallying point for educators of all generations who want to create connected communities of learning.

That’s what makes the Brand-ed philosophy a broadband for success. Generations of school leaders can now have rich and connected conversations about 2.0 on the many platforms on the 2.0 scene. Long time leaders and their younger colleagues .. who could have been their students... are now experiencing similar demands from the rapidly changing world of communicaton and technology. The marketplace for effective school leadership wants return,no matter how long a leader has been in place!

So, let's talk about how our rapidly changing world can advance learning through a "brand experience" approach to education. Today educators from baby boomers to Gen Y are planning the course for a whole new millennial generation And those students understand brand experience, and can thrive in environments that build relationships to make that experience positive. School leaders' participation in the web 2.0 world ,personally and professionally ,connects school communities to new opportunities for excellence.

Part of that change lies within a leader who takes on the view of "Leadership Branding". This could be a breakout move toward a brand experience when a leader uses web 2.0 to establish, not so much of a personal brand, but a professional Leadership Brand. A Leadership Brand communicates in an outward fashion about the leader...but also welcomes inbound connection to others...the two way street for school excellence may start with a professional's 2.0 Leadership Brand!

Monday, March 08, 2010

Celebratory Branding for School Leaders

After watching what seemed to be the longest Oscar Show I've ever seen, I was struck by branded thinking about how educators perceive going in a brand-ed direction. I'm developing thoughts about why educators might struggle with the idea of branding, especially since the concept has roots in the development of a Personal Brand.

Tom Peter's coined this phrase, Personal Brand, long ago and Dan Schawbel, "Me 2.0", author and personal brand expert has powered thinking and process toward achieving this goal as a means of developing value individually and for an organization. I think that where educators might get stuck. First, Tom Peters might look too business-like for most educators, though the leaders of school reform may have welcomed his thinking. Second, educators are more often the sort of people who are attracted to community, perhaps team processes, and find themselves often identifying with a group, rather than pursuing individual recognition.

Personal branding might look too egocentric for educators. They don't want to be seen as self promoting, As I saw last night with millions of others, most educators don't want to be "Thanking the Academy" for their achievements, then going into work to try to advance the greater good for a whole community. Seems contradictory to them perhaps.

But I believe that we can use personal branding to advance what is good for our schools, if we keep asking the question, "What's in it for the kids, what's in it for my school?" as we develop ourselves, our growth, and share our brand. I'm thinking CELEBRATORY...not CELEBRITY when it comes to building an educational personal brand that improves the entire school brand of the organization. Keep asking yourself as an educator," How can I celebrate the power that I have, define it, mine it and then shine it on the world so that my community is enhanced?" With that in mind, educators can brand through Celebratory endeavors that improve the culture of their community. They are not grandstanding celebrities of education, and it's not so much about ME but about getting to WE in a new energized way through unique communicating value.

Just this past week, my colleague, Eric Sheninger, participated in a further learning and personal branding professional development experience. PD can do that for educators, as it further defines their brand. And what he has done is open a blog that raises his personal educational brand, and enhances his community effort for his school. CELEBRATORY work...bravo Eric!

Define, mine and shine your personal branding light in education and be that celebratory leader.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Moira Forbes and Branding Women as Leaders

Yesterday at 85 Broads , a premier association of professional women in NYC, I had the honor of personally meeting Moira Forbes...yes that's in FORBES, and her Forbes Women Platform never sounded better. Moira is pictured on the right with the President of Semprae Laboratories (Zestra),my client, Rachel Braun Scherl. Moira spoke directly and passionally about a brand...The Women Leader who is at the helm during change..and these times are a-changin!

Moira spoke about the dramatic rate of change today, and how women must lead in a "rapidly changing state of change". Women's deftness and dynamic nature doen't make them better leaders..but different.

Leading and motivating, according to Moira, BEGINS WITH YOU! To me that's a call for a personal brand in leadership, which is one of my beliefs, and this goes to the educational leader...female or male!

How do we lead and manage change in our own lives and in our careers is something that bumps up against thinking brand-ed!

What do you think?

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Guest Blogger:Alexandra Rubin Delves into Branding

Both my brothers became physicians and I, of course, wandered into a business where the undisciplined are welcome. -Carroll O'Connor

Hello, hello!

I wanted to start this guest blog entry off with a quote with the word welcome in it and I found this, which actually ended up being perfect. Perfect because I totally disagree!

Granted, Carroll O'Conner is from the "good ol' days" when you could hop off a bus in LA or NYC and off of shear talent and luck you could be a star. It is not that time anymore. My actor friends are exhausted from going to one open call after another and having nothing come from it because that equity actor with the great representation booked the gig. People are even trying to avoid becoming equity since the pickings are even slimmer than usual "because of the economy". And you just can't look at theatre as just an art anymore, kids. It's a business and you're the product.

This is something I knew abstractly in college but in the months since I've graduated I've truly come to realize what it means to have to sell yourself... not in the lady of the night way... yes, I know that joke was awful. I'm not a comedian.

In this blog, I'll share with you tips that I have picked up, share stories of how I failed abysmally or transcended into that ever illusive plane of success, and occasionally may tell a joke that you actually like.

The first piece of advice is to brand yourself. This means that you are creating an image that will become synonymous with you. When someone sees that logo or hears that quote, you come into their mind. This is, of course, obvious in things like running shoes or food. When you see that swoosh, you think Nike. When you hear "have it your way," you think Burger King. My branding device comes from a quote from Shakespeare's Julius Ceasar, "Ambition should be made of sterner stuff."

Now, after I decided that this would be my central branding device, I figured out how to use it. It started with my business cards. On one side, my card says "Ambition should be made of sterner stuff..." and on the back it reads "Alexandra H. Rubin (pn) 1. sterner stuff" and then has my information and a picture of one of my shows.

This branding immediately conveys determination, dedication, intelligence and strength. I am telling everyone that reads my card that I am sterner stuff by definition.

I carried this look and quote over to the signature in my email, my website, anything that had to do with my professional persona. I started this about a month ago and already I've had people quote my branding device back to me.

To find your personal brand identity ask yourself these questions:
What do I want to accomplish by branding my image?
(my answer: To present myself as a creative professional and intrigue and impress potential partners and employers.)
What do I want to convey to the people I am marketing myself to?
(my answer: strength, conviction, intelligence, dedication, determination, confidence)
How can I make my branding both verbal and visual?
(my answer: Use a strong quote that I can turn around to describe myself and an example of my work. I accomplished this by using a strong picture from one of the shows that I costume designed as the background for one side of my card.)

Most importantly, delve into yourself and really figure out what is amazing about who you are and how you can make people sit up and take notice of it. More to come soon but in the meantime...

Here are some other brands I dig:

Soul Pancake
This is a website by Rainn Wilson (Dwight on the office) in which you can discuss life's big questions with Rainn and the other members. What makes this so great is a) Soul Pancake is a totally unique name and b) he qualifies the name by subtitling it "Chew on Life's Big Questions". It is fun an witty which is exactly what the website is. He hasn't quite gotten the visual stuff down yet, it's all a mishmosh with Mike P. Mitchell's (admittedly awesome) artwork as background, but the name is pure genius.

HERE Arts Center
HERE Arts Center has created a hell of a brand for itself. Just by name it is instantly recognizable (also, Abbott and Costello would have a grand ol' time reviving "Who's on First" with its name). HERE is where you want to be. They continue their branding into their website with links like "See here" for what's currently playing and "Be here" for ticket purchases. They also have a great logo and font which they use on all their materials and is totally unique to them. Home run, HERE.

I'm With Coco Campaign
Now, this was really created for Conan O'Brien by fans who were upset about his forced early retirement from the Tonight Show, but it's brilliant. A simple line and a fantastic image that depicts Conan as a super hero/cartoon. It has humor and yet shows the strength of Conan and the passion of his fans.

And, a swing and a miss...

Charlie White
Okay, Charlie White has a serious point of view going with his photography. So why is his website so dull dull dull??? There's nothing interesting or unique about it until you finally find the light grey work "work" in the navigation bar and come across his stuff. With one word, he could have us hooked from the homepage but if I didn't already know what was there, I don't know that I'd venture around to find the goods.

Good night, all! Be brilliant, be happy!

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Student Achievement: Learn to be The Luxury Brand

Branding in higher education and private education is a high priority topic and always connected to developing business. In this challenged economy, revenue is still spent within these institutions in the pursuit of students and their education dollar. A public school may seek brand building for different reasons, but the features of the branding model used so successfully in these organizations can help public schools attract good students to the community and develop their achievement. Learning some of the strategies that have worked over time for successful brands in higher ed and in the private school communities can inform the new vision for brand-ed school success. It’s not fiscally possible or even organizationally imperative to develop marketing and PR centers in a K-12 organization to create value for a brand.

The higher eds and private schools have done themselves proud in developing a message that can be marketed for sale to students and their families. They have honed a pitch that has value for informing schools about branding. First, they have dug deep and developed a BRAND that authentically, powerfully and simply reflects the offering of the institution, and they’ve developed a brand promise that defines what the brand will do for the audience. They’ve thought about what differentiates them from others. They’ve given time to presenting their brand personality, how they deliver their service that is the story of success across many channels of communiation. They’ve leveraged the personality into an emotional connection with the audience. These organizations have worked on messaging over time so that the permanence of value is set in stone, though the brand may shift to accommodate changing times, the promise is solid as a rock.

Brand value simply lies the word Trust, which is already part of conversation about school reform. Trust is in marketing lingo a “Free-mium” and schools don’t have to spend to develop that.

If public schools take on branding as an initiative it will not be simply to attract dollars, although that can be a by-product of developing trust that makes for successful branding. Schools can look at a Brand-ed initiative and create a new way to talk the talk about pursuing student achievement, and that’s the real currency in public schools, and it is tied to dollars.

If communities examine the common approaches of the established educational institutions perceived as having successful brands, if leaders think about how successful educational organizations can inform the discussion of a public school brand movement, we can see the benefits of building a public school brand outweigh resistance.

Like it or not, effective branding is with us already in our schools, but in disparate and sometimes ungoverned ways. Take control through a platform of Trust and the develop the branding opportunities this powerful concept holds to improved student performance. Align existing and innovative culture, your plan for achievement and the development of revenue under a brand-ed umbrella. This has worked for years in colleges and private schools and can be adapted to your little red school house of 2010. And when you do so, you’ll be in the driver’s seat as a leader of a trusting community…and you’ll be driving a luxury education brand

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Build Alliances in Brand like the Brand Big Dogs!

Yesterday I blogged about some ways the Iconic brands, the Brand Big Dogs, build and sustain their winning brands. One of those strategies..building partnerships. Many schools miss out on the resources that come from building partnerships with other schools, with the community, and with business.

So learn from Burger King. Yesterday, the Starbucks nation was the foundation of my thinking because it spends very little to advance its brand, something schools can learn to do. This morning it's announced on WPIX TV that BK has invited a new partership...Starbucks!

Burger King will now sell select Starbucks drinks in their stores in order to compete with the Golden Arches whose cafe drinks have been successful to the max.

So grab a partner schools and start the brand dance!