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    Entries in Brand (19)

    Friday
    Nov082013

    Off Topic: Honest Slogans

    It's Friday, you're beat, probably slacking off a bit at the office today (it's ok, I won't tell anyone).

    It's a grind for sure. If I really wanted to I could make us all more depressed about work by running some charts showing corporate profits continuing to reach new all-time highs, while wages and median family incomes remain at about 1983 levels. 

    But I won't bum you out about that today. It's almost the weekend.

    Instead, I want you to have a laugh or two courtesy of Honest Slogans, an amazingly simple and funny site that re-imagines many of the most famous and iconic corporate logos and taglines with what people really think about the companies and brands.

    I will embed a few of these 'fake but ring pretty true' logos below, but you really should head over to Honest Slogans and have some chuckles do some competitive research.

    I have to lead with what is seemingly every HR and Talent Pro's favorite company, LinkedIn:

     

    How about a blast from the past but is still, shockingly still breathing, The Yellow Pages:

     

    And one more before I close up for the weekend. You know that Motel 6 will always 'leave the light on for you'. Did you ever wonder why?

    Good stuff.

    Have a great weekend all!

    Monday
    Aug122013

    The Progressive Service and re-imagining the organization

    There are lots of fantastic aspects of being a college student - the parties, the football games, the almost complete lack of real responsibility when compared to what often comes next - the corporate world, the 9-to-5 grind, and trying reasonably hard not to screw up, (after all, all that fun in college came with a price tag, probably in the form of tens of thousands of student loans to pay off).

    But besides all the obvious fun and cool elements of student life, there is at least one other - the chance to work on projects, develop ideas, and present provocative concepts all safe in the knowledge that these ideas will usually be evaluated mostly on their creativity and inspiration, and not out in the real world where at most organizations they are likely to be met with 'That's not how we do things here' or 'That will never work' or 'Who are you again?'

    And out in the real world massive, transformational organizational re-designs almost never actually happen (and work). There is so much legacy baggage, locked-in contracts and structures, and often a substantial level of resistance to change that the change that anyone tries to make to an entrenched institution is usually incremental and small in nature.  All change is hard. Big change is just about impossible to pull off.

    With all that in mind, I recommend taking a look at a student project that focuses on the kind of massive change that is normally only talked about in the detached, theoretical setting of academia. The below presentation is titled United States Postal Service Thesis, and was created by Tom Calabrese for a Masters program. The deck, which presents some ideas and kind of radical concepts for the US Postal Service of the future, is below, and I'll have a quick comment/challenge after the break.

     

    Did you click through the deck? What did you think?

    A couple of things stood out to me. One, that providing, for a price, the ability to refine and tailor your own mail delivery preferences is an idea worth pursuing. And two, the more radical idea about somehow connecting the Postal Service social graph to other, more higher value add services and products.

    But the real reason why I decided to post about this was not any of the specific proposals for the USPS, but rather as it was a great reminder that we almost never spend any time thinking about re-imagining our own organizations in a similar manner. Now certainly most of our organizations don't face the same number and type of daunting problems the USPS faces, but it's also certain that we underestimate the problems, (maybe ones that have not yet even manifested), that face our organizations.

    So the challenge is this - what if you could (or had to), completely re-imagine your workplace?

    What if you were to start from a blank sheet, or close to it, and start over?

    What would you keep? What would you let go? What are you doing simply because of inertia and tradition and internal resistance to change?

    What would the 'new' organization look like?

    Have a great week all!

    Friday
    Apr122013

    Off Topic: This is how you sound when you talk about your 'Personal Brand'

    It is, perhaps, the most inane concept of the last 10 years.

    Source - Dinosaur Comics

    As an aside, you should really check out Dinosaur Comics, it has one of the most interesting concepts for a comic that you'll ever see. The artwork - meaning the characters, panels, flow, etc. is exactly the same every day, only the dialogue changes. It sounds crazy but it works, and as evidenced by the comic above, often times it really hits the mark.

    Have a great weekend everyone. And quit it with the 'personal brand' stuff.

    Thursday
    Feb072013

    What's your culture really like? Ask the new guy from out of town

    Company Culture, Employer Brand, Employer Value Proposition - there's been much written and spoken about these ideas and concepts in the last few years and for the most part a general acceptance has emerged that organizational leaders need to be very aware of internal culture, and its effects on morale, engagement, productivity and performance.

    While most HR and Talent pros 'get' that culture is important, and some even taking more proactive steps to promote their unique culture (mostly it seems through enhanced 'cultural fit' recruiting practices), there also seems to be quite a bit less written about revealing or unraveling the existing company culture.Where are the donuts?

    If you work in any type of organization today you certainly have your own opinion of 'What's it like to work here?', but I'd imagine most of us don't go around the office asking our colleagues for their opinion of 'What's it like to work here?'

    Aside from the annual employee survey where these kinds of questions are raised and the answers to them aggregated and placed in colorful bar graphs and pie charts, (Is there anything better than a pie chart?. I think not.), we can pretty easily get tricked into remaining comfortable that our personal view of 'What's it like to work here' is kind of the universal view of the place.

    But a more revealing (and hopefully honest) assessment of a culture or an environment might come from a different source than the aggregated and homogenized survey data, or from the long-held and personal views of organization veterans. It could be that the most refreshing look at the culture of a place comes from its newest members, and in particular, ones that by virtue of their past upbringing and history, would not have many deeply-held biases that might influence their opinion.

    Case in point - the impressions on American culture from a new visitor, the NBA's Alexey Shved from Russia, in his rookie season playing for the Minnesota Timberwolves, and enjoying his first extended period living and working in the USA.  

    Hey Alexey, what's it like in America?

    "Well, everybody loves donuts here, and I eat them too. People mostly drink beer and not stronger drinks, exactly like in The Simpsons.”

    Nice. American culture through the lens of a recent entrant, with his primary frame of reference being the Simpsons cartoon. 

    It's kind of amusing but also serves as a bit of a reminder that culture and the perception of a culture is a highly personal thing. And it also reinforces the point that no matter how much or how hard we try to shape the culture, (or at least the perceptions of a culture), people are going to have their own take on your place, your people, your vibe - you get the idea.

    Our pal Alexey's take about donuts and beer, while pretty funny, should also be a kind of wake-up call to those of us charged or interested in shaping, communicating, and propagating something as amorphous as 'culture'.

    No matter how hard you try, how slick your marketing campaigns are, and how much 'fit' drives your hiring, firing, and rewards processes - there is probably a new guy from out of town who looks around and sees donuts and beer.

    Friday
    Oct262012

    Playing offense on social media

    Some time back the great Paul Hebert wrote one of the best pieces in the last few years over on Fistful of Talent, titled, HR Plays Too Much Defense.  You should stop what you are doing and read it, or re-read it as the case may be, then come back for a recent and I think perfect example of Paul's ideas played out in the corporate social media space. I'll wait.

    Ok, back? I told you Paul's piece was money.

    So here's my example of playing offense, or at least not sitting back and playing defense, from one of those classic 'Love them or hate them' organizations, Goldman Sachs.

    Of course you'll remember the recent resignation flame-out from former Goldman Sachs employee Greg Smith, who took to the New York Times op-ed page to trash Goldman's culture, draw attention to their bad treatment of clients and customers, and essentially portray the firm as a horrible, horrible place to work, one where a high-minded and formerly optimistic, but now jaded person like himself could no longer be comfortable with.

    Well last week Smith sat down with the Times once again, to talk about his soon to be released tell-all memoir 'Why I Left Goldman Sachs'.  Turns out that according to the piece in Times last week, the 'tell-all' doesn't really have that much to say, in fact the headline of the piece, 'A Tell-All on Goldman Has Little Worth Telling', paints Smith equal parts greedy, out-of-touch, and disappointed with his personal compensation, as some kind of crusader to protect customers and reveal deficiencies in Goldman's culture.

    Goldman, upon seeing the latest Times' piece, issued the below tweet from their official Twitter account:

     

     

    Man, that's a burn.  At least from Goldman's point of view, the Times' provided the initial platform for Smith's enmity and accusations, and now after some time and more details are revealed by Smith via his memoir, essentially has to admit there really isn't much there there. Goldman's swipe at the Times is, at least to my view, a great example of taking the offense, in a way that is snarky but still measured, and one that certainly seems to be in line with their reputation and culture.

    Let me be clear about one thing, I am not an apologist for Goldman at all, and their role in the financial crisis of 2008-2009 has been pretty well documented. Next year a former Goldman trader will be tried for civil fraud for his role in the subprime mortgage scandals. Goldman's hands are not at all clean.

    But that makes their little dig at the Times even more refreshing I think.  It is easy, especially when you might not have the most respected brand, to sit back, to try not to offend, to play by a really restrictive set of rules, but like Paul pointed out in the FOT piece, playing defense all the time is playing not to lose.

    Do you want to play to win, whether it is in HR, marketing, recruiting, or social?

    Then you have to score some points.

    And the Goldman example above reminds us even the 'bad' guys can get over sometimes as well.