Blur and Blend Marketing: A Trend for Brand Innovation

Blurring and Blending:  A Trend for Brand Innovation



Following trends is something that Sparks and Honey influenced me to do three years ago. It’s a necessary practice for making sense of the world of work and of the world of my own personal life. I’ve been inspired by the agency and it’s led me to include the practice of trend analysis in a form suited for educating the next generation of marketing professionals here and abroad. Understanding “signals” makes students keenly aware and skilled at spotting, curating and interpreting trends. It’s a valuable skill for them as they approach the first jobs of careers. It’s a real distinguishing skill in a typical skill set of a marketer.


As the year 2018 closed I saw that my trend seeking was showing me a trends that I’m calling Blurring & Blending. It’s the illustration of how the “mashup” that the visionary author Tom Friedman predicted before the 21st Century. It’s being played out in the context that Marshall McCluhan painted of an electric speed of communication in a foggy sea of information.


I noticed over and over again that wildly different sectors were finding new connections with new partners to meet the escalating demands of consumers for new experience. Things weren’t sorting into verticals or sectors anymore.


 Just walking the street in NYC I could see Capital One Bank becoming a Coffee Café, a retail store called Story behaving like a magazine and changing its theme every two months, and top restaurants becoming co-working spaces in their off peak hours.  


Tuning into Blurring and Blending I saw more examples. The New York Times acquiring an experiential marketing agency called Fake Love, and Cadillac House becoming a showroom for autos against an event and gallery space. restaurants becoming co-working spaces in their off peak hours. The leader of the co-working sector. Wework just launched a “Made by WE” concept  that blends their brand with the brands that they house and then blends with a retail and coffee experience, combined with on-demand,  “grab and go”  style time in a workspace. Talk about a blur of innovation! I even spotted a signal that suggested a new sport, the blending of Boxing and Chess was taking hold!


Blurring and Blending the lines is creating new ways for consumers to behave, to learn, to engage. It’s Blurring and Blending marketing! Maybe cutting through the fog for marketing meaning is morphing?


I’m suggesting that keeping your eyes out for potential blend and blur partners and opportunities is a 2019 strategy, and telling that  to education clients as well as to my business clients. Where do you see the lines being blurred in your company? Where do you see a place to lead in a way that inspires the juice of innovation that comes from this kind of risk taking? Let’s talk about it over coffee-- in a bank!

Tips from The Beach...Calm Down and Lead:The Psychology behind BrandED Leadership

At the Beach we think our BEST! 

At the Beach we think our BEST! 

Leaders in the Ed world or Business world share a fear of the transparency social media brings. 

Calm DOWN, people! Take a strategic route to better communication. Understand Behavioral Neuroscience. I don't mean lab experiments about measuring eye gaze patterns. I mean knowing the general basics of Neuroscience and Relational Neuroscience, these areas of psychology are reaching new levels of acceptance in organizational and management circles. 

Face it, you need to brand build as a leader, no option here: personal and  organizational brands  potentially improve the efficacy of a leader and their organizational success. Use the words of one of the leading neuroscientists, Abhijit Naska as your guide--“You are your mind, so if you can see it, you can achieve it.” Let your mind play--begin to sculpt and build that brain. Understand the relationship between memory, learning, emotions and your brain. The better  you know these connections, the better you will be at crafting and employing a brand that goes beyond the window dressing of surface features to authenticity and to successful relational leadership.

Another tip, in neuropsychologist, Dr. Rick Hanson’s Hardwiring Happiness, learn how our brains are wired toward the negative. Start with a positive view. If someone sees 10 tweets that are supportive of their leadership and one negative... they will focus on that negative. After you sculpt your brand go to the Relational Neuroscience gym and build your tolerance for ambiguity in the social media world. Pattern a daily reflection on the brand you have built. Use even in one word, like "RELENTLESS" principal,  Hamish Brewer does. He's naturally got relational neuroscience running through his neurons!

Then as we say in BrandED become a Brand ACE that we feature in our text, one of pattern and consistency --of neuroreflection. Bring the the benefit to your organization.

And one last tip-- follow @ adamMgrant while you are building your power! 

Cheers to a Campaign of CHANGE!


School leaders get excited when a new school year is on the horizon. Business leaders too when they start a new campaign. These launches are full of promise, and remarkable small ideas can be the "thousand small touches" Michael Eisner talked about in the course of a school year or a business cycle that make change happen. These are the tiny touches that your teams and networks can deliver to sustain the interest on the road to change as you are bring forward new thinking, like the innovation of building a brand. 

As we have been sharing how to create a BrandED culture and how to build a BrandED plan with leaders in our BrandEd bootcamp these past months, I see the bubbling up of energy ready to be released at the start of a campaign by newly minted brand savvy leaders: new communication directions, new strategies, new messaging in realtime and online.

This launch energy is like the setting of more than 100 million explosive bubbles free in opening a new bottle of champagne. If not consumed, million bubbles of that opened champagne are lost. But you can't gulp champagne--or change. When sustaining the momentum of change after a big launch, leaders have to be the stewards of the innovative effort. making sure that the change doesn't fall flat, fizzle out, lose its sparkle of promise.

But all hope is not lost if things do slow down, if change process needs your spark, leaders can take a page from the champagne lover's book.They revive nearly-flat champagne: by dropping a single raisin into the bottle. It will collect and then gradually release remaining carbon dioxide from the first fermenting that is left in the flat champagne, putting some fizz back into the drink. Saving the bubbly.

This is a metaphor proves one small compelling action by an observant and active leader can be that "raisin" of power to ignite any campaign. Be ready to step up to sustain the innovation and make change "stick" with your unique modeling and committed leadership... it's the raisin to your team's efforts as change makers. 

Cheers to innovation in your communities! Keep going, leaders... keep bubbling up change...and be ready to see yourself involved as the steward--- the wine steward-in-chiefof a new sparkling experience for your organization.

Brand Dynamite: Start your Social Media Avalanche


it’s one hot summer. Why am I thinking about avalanches?


The Wise Geek platform got me thinking about something called a “slab avalanche”. . Then, I start thinking about organization and leadership, not snow.


A lot of leaders I work with are afraid of the “slab avalanche” of online engagement. They are skeptical about opening up to social media feed. They are afraid of Twitter. Lazy on LinkedIn. Instagram averse. FB phobic.


Some leaders  fear social media  “slab avalanches”. Mistakenly they think that a loud noise, and by that I mean an online caustic comment, a sharp opinion, a nasty retort from a community member ,or a customer, a stakeholder will create an avalanche of negative bad feeling among community that will crush them in a transparent time. They chose not to engage. Wrong!


Social media averse leaders think that just like a loud noise supposedly triggers an avalanche, an unstoppable this wave of bad news, bad buzz, bad press online will cause a communication snowslide that will damage them professionally. But it ain’t so. Avalanches do not result from a sudden loud noise. A gunshot or a yodel can't start an avalanche. It's a scientific fact. It’s just noise.


So leaders, get over it... do not fear the noise of social media and a possible “slab avalanche”. A negative word, post, complaint, verbal arrow won’t be enough to stop your leadership agenda if you include an online strategy of Brand to engage your community ahead of crisis.


And actually if you get savvy online YOU can create a rush, a movement, a positive “slab avalanche” of good about your brand and your school by layering on the video and content that promotes your work. When scientists have started avalanches, they do so with controlled use of dynamite and create the right event. Take a lesson from that!


Use your own verbal and visual dynomite on social media  to create waves of good feeling... an avalanche of support for your school brand --and your leadership brand. And enjoy the ride!


Chocolate Holds Answers to Brand Value ...


Seth Godin's short blog post everyday is inspiring me to use the less is more way of thinking in my own posts--not even close to being able to handle the tight delivery he uses but here goes..... As I'm thinking a lot about my brand image as this wonderful mapping by consultant Lou Verschueren created from our first meeting reveals.

So I'm going to be talking to a group of New Yorkers in the shadow of the Flatiron Building on June 26th thanks to an invite from the Flatiron Business Improvement District who is co-branding with Baruch College CAPS program for its TECH TUESDAY. So using  my less is more thinking ahead of that. And one of the points I will make about personal brand...thanks to Seth.


In his short blog he talked with casual power about having worth beyond being superficial using the Tower of Pisa and Chocolate bunnies. The point being the Tower of Pisa is hollow, nothing inside to see but's that's ok... it doesn't promise us something--it just is... different for chocolate  and if you get a hollow Easter bunny,nothing inside to eat... you be disappointed -- the anticipation is high and the result not what we thought it would be...


He got me thinking about brand value...he said the wrapper matters but so does the experience within...

So I bought a bunch of chocolates that have the same wrapper to bring to the session-- but one difference ---the insides of the chocolate are different...same wrapper but they aren't hollow, they are filled with something different inside.

I've spent way  too much time looking at the possibilities of the chocolate, mint flavor, caramel flavor, dark chocolate. It's got me stuck. It looks the same, but promising's about the possibility of choice...and my expectation.  So with meeting people and sharing my own wrapper... the same wrapper that others have as entrepreneurial small biz owners, I going to know that my typical wrapper needs to do better than this chocolate wrapper. Your image matters. And your promise, what makes someone choose you the caramel over the milk chocolate center isn't an easy thing it's complicated. Brands have to make the quick connection to their UVB--UNIQUE BRAND VALUE... that brings result.

What's the difference in your own juicy core that separates your from the others as you promise your service or product?