A Thousand Small Touches: Leading from Brand to the User Experience

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 A school leader today needs to have a heartfelt talk with a business leader any day of the week. Why? They have so much in common. In a transparent digital world, their respective leadership missions now must include a new, essential ability to CREATE and DELIVER communication messages in an engaged way with their respective public audiences so a two-way positive communication loop forms... a never ending story of connection. It's true in business and it's true in school leadership. So welcome to a leadership world that is flattened, making the learning opportunities for schools and business communication endless. 

Here's a few simple, effective ways that I've seen business design the experience of a branded service or product to make people fall in love, in loyalty or just in line with messaging that is authentic. It's what I teach to marketing majors and what I bring to the organizations I serve... that includes schools. There are smart " edge dwelling" school leaders who are already reaping the benefit of brandED leadership and understanding how "User Experience" or "UX" is growing their school brand value.

Three Simple Steps into User Experience for School Leaders...

1. YOUR PERSONAL PROFESSIONAL BRAND IS SET...NOW START MAKING RELATIONSHIPS FOR USER EXPERIENCE

Leaders in school need to open conversations with their colleagues, the leaders across professions. Once your personal professional brand is set, you can test it immediately. Time to learn from others who are like you and unlike you. You can fashion a "User Experience" mindset to promote your organizations by connecting outside the schoolhouse. How to find relationships? Analogue still offers brand savvy leaders the real time opportunities of face to face or phone to phone conversations. Schedule at least two daily for 10 minutes with people you want to know better. Introduce your brand journey to them. At the start of the school year, leaders can consciously use their personal circle , family, association ties, neighborhood connections, health club networks, mom and pop store connections, and places of worship to promote the story of building a personal brand in service to creating a school brand. Ask: "Who do you know that might help me help my school ?" In a digital complement, leaders need to open a LinkedIN profile. It's a sorely missed channel to finding resources to building connections for a school leader. Most educators haven't seen the value in the connection, but in these leadership times your circle must be an ever expanding network of possible digital connections and a platform with so much to offer in communication like LinkedIn can not be missed. Open up a Linked IN profile and in DIY style get coached from the resource of video and articles to create your relational profile. One day you may even set up a blog on that profile to attract more network and relational power. For now, just get on the platform and show up.

  2. GROW INTERNAL SUPPORT FOR A USER EXPERIENCE MINDSET.

Tell your ownstory of brand building as a bridge to creating a school "User Experience" mindset that is part of our digital age. Talk to your internal organization of teachers and staff about the power of having a brand that engages loyalty, that creates well-being. It's a step into social psychology that is discussed in BrandED. We know from brain research that emotions make connection. Look out at your early gatherings at your school meetings and advocate for creating a clear brand that connects to the experience of being part of the school community. The design of the school physical spaces, the website, the connection to kids and parents can eventually be linked to the brand your school builds. The experiences the community has with building the brand become the first script for stories. The user experiences of all those who come in contact with the services, products and benefits of the school brand are the stories that define. Be an edge dweller in those early meetings. Enlisting the internal community in co-creating the brand, find those who want to describe their own user experience as teachers, staff members, andadministrators. They can tell the positive stories that create emotion and connection that links to well being--a positive user experience.  Starting with the internal organization that is empowered by brand, the internal community can demonstrate how their "stakeholder facing" positive brand voice reaches to the community and forms loyal connections. As an aside, bringing some hot baked goods into those meetings can help...marketers know that the sense of smell is a powerful connector to positive experience!

3. A THOUSAND SMALL TOUCHES CAN CREATE A WEALTH OF BRAND USER EXPERIENCE

When Michael Eisner talked about brand, years ago he said it best for today's digital user experience... " A brand is a living entity and is enriched or undermined cumulatively over time, the product of a thousand small gestures. School leaders have the responsibility to build internal awareness among their staff touse their digital and analogue savvy to offer a "User Experience" to stakeholders that is based on touch points that happen everyday in schools-- touch points that are shared with pride through many channels.  It's now a competitive world of choice in education. Your school's unique brand value is experienced by users who can help you spread the story of your school and keep your community vibrant, intact and loyal. If leaders think of the number of students, staff, and parents they can enlist through celebrating the user experience in small gestures through digital and real time, the thousand threshold isn't a reach! You don't have to wait for a Friday night football game, a big dance, or a science fair to create a memorable user experience that can be a product that illustrates a strong school brand. The community can promote through their own experiences using their own channels, which is how they behave when they loyaly engage with a favorite product or service.

Co-create the "User Experience" and your community will spread the word of your school brand!

 

 

 

Welcoming Brand: 3 Simple Ways to Start your School Brand Engine in the First Days of School

Photo by Rawpixel/iStock / Getty Images

Photo by Rawpixel/iStock / Getty Images

Welcome back to school! Educators...you have a powerful teachable moment in the early days of a new school year to create an authentic, energized communication link to your stakeholders through a well-defined brand.

The Opening Bell

As you throw open the door of your building for the year, see the array of new clothes, backpacks, lunch bags and  devices that  reflect the consumer choices of kids, parents, teachers and staff. Be a careful observer this year of brand. You will learn about your community as you study. Get right into the halls, with new eyes meet the buses and see the micro-tribes of big corporate brands. Don't be afraid to recognize the power of those brands. See the impact on your stakeholders. Talk to the owners about their choices. These brands can teach you how to start building your own channels to new messaging that improves your school culture, performance and relationships. Brands tap into  emotions with stories that build connection. You are a consumer too. Think about what you are wearing that is a brand choice for YOUR first day of school. And where did you stop for that coffee on your way in?  What's the story about that connection?

I'm telling you not to miss the chance as the opening bell rings to harness lessons from big brands as they have built" loyalty and belonging" among your own stakeholders...hmmm these are great elements of a successful school year. It's time to brand build for your school success. But how to do it at this busy time of year? Simple.

This is how to launch:

1. DO as I DO...Nike famously said, " Just Do it!" They were right. You have to be a model for brand development if you want to build an engaged school community. Knowing who the community is as a tribe is part of the school brand journey. Keep observing. You need to know your tribe. To launch a school journey, you must  first create your own educator personal-professional brand and take it out for a test drive. In BrandED, Tell your Story, Build Relationships, Empower Learning we give you a strategy from business brand building, A SWOT, that works like a charm for personal brand building. So just do it... Do a short SWOT analysis and reflect of your STRENGTHS, what you have going, your WEAKNESSES, what you want to build, your OPPORTUNITIES, what you can develop positively, and your THREATS, what's challenging you. Write a short reflection on each of those areas. That's Step ONE.

2. Capture the WHY...Hallmark card's mission statement speaks to their goal of "Making a genuine difference in life everyday". Get quickly to your why for your personal professional brand as you take your SWOT and condense it into 2 lines that speak to the WHY of what you are about as you educate your community into a brandED mindset. This statement can be part of your first public references to brand development. Don't be afraid to be the storyteller-in-chief here as you tell a short story of yourself and your why. Don't shy away from talking about Brand development in the first days of school. You have a perfect window with the spankin' new brands that are surrounding you in classrooms, hallways, parking lots, playgrounds to start expressing your own  brand why short story out of your SWOT reflection. As an educational leader my personal brand why is:

" Connecting school leaders to communication messaging that benefits the future of schools and their communities in a fast changing world."

 It's one line, but I've been doing this a long time. It addresses my thinking about strengths, weakness, opportunities and threats. Please feel free to create the 2 or even 3 line statement. Like Hallmark, take that view of how your unique why can be demonstrated everyday and use your statement.  That's Step TWO.

3. Be the Energy... Dunkin's "America runs on Dunkin'" suggests community power. A whole country, a tribe of coffee drinkers, feels the energy of powering their day together. Less is more in sparking that energy, so look at your Why statement and now get really tight...capture who you are in a one word brand. Then get out there and claim it with the actions and messages that are the stories of your word. Visit classrooms, go to meetings, make phone calls, introduce yourself in that one word brand. It worked for Volvo...their legacy one word is TRUST. My word is SPARK. Others I know identify with GRIT, RESILIENT, AGILE, CURIOUS.... you choose you word and then find the channels to broadcast your personal professional brand, face to face, on your email signature, on your social media platforms like Twitter and Instagram, newsletter, on your business card or blog to name a few outlets.To spread the word about brand in your community, find your brand curious stakeholders...students, teachers, parents, staff even community members and challenge them to create their personal one word brand to share. Open the conversation of making this a whole school endeavor during the year. Start the engine to developing a whole school brand. That's Step THREE.

 

Don't miss the opening of school when the positive power of brand surrounds you. If you want to SPARK a school brand that will power your messages, making them engaged and authentic in our digital world. Educators  must create a school brand and help it evolve over the school year. IT STARTS WITH YOU.

 

Brand Consumer to BrandED Builder: 3 "Brand Sure" Ways to Start your Storyteller-in-Chief Journey

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As the photo of my Baruch Marketers, all holding marketing materials for my book BrandED, with Eric Sheninger, shows shows, Brand is never far from my mind professionally and personally. School leaders who are reading and reviewing our book this summer...even on the beach... are getting ready to take on the Storyteller-in-Chief mantle for leading their schools that will bring them into a new world of communication with stakeholders. Today I heard that the book is "user friendly" Thanks to  principal Neerja Pujabi from the Peel School District ON  for that view. It inspired me to do a short post that can help people move more quickly into the role of school brand champion before summer is over. It's simple to take this on if you start with reflecting on being a CONSUMER of BRAND before you become a BUILDER of BrandED. Ask yourself:

" How have brands impacted me and secured my LOYALTY?"

Once you identify a few ways that the "MadMen" have used to enlist you as a loyal CONSUMER of brand, you can adapt those strategies to a school brand while you are  executing as a BUILDER of brandED.  So how do they do this?

Here's THREE "BRAND SURE WAYS" to Adapt!

1.BRANDS INTERRUPT OUR PATTERN

If you want to bring the power of brand communication, you have to step out into Business as UNUSUAL. Think about how you usually get people's attention at the start of the school year and DO SOMETHING UNIQUE AND DIFFERENT that calls attention to your brand strategy. Corporate Brands are masterful at  shifting people's behavior patterns. and you need to INTERRUPT the pattern of perception of your stakeholders by doing something different at the start of school. Do a video instead of a newsletter, ride a scooter into your opening day... whatever it takes.

 

2. BRANDS CREATE WELL-BEING

In our book, we spend time talking about social science and well -being...why? Because people gravitate to what they trust and know. When you add something new like brand to your leadership style, balance it against what is known and trusted and comfortable. Start with the familiar identity system of your logo and school colors and then drill down into finding out the intangible feelings that identity system represents. What does it mean to be a LEWIS INDIAN? I was part of that Identity system when I taught middle school, but it really needed to go beyond the logo and tagline to what are the intangibles of that identity were in order to get the best of culture, performance and resources for the school. Brands lean into stories and find the ones that powerfully build emotion--then they share them! Don't be humble. Amplify out of that feeling of trust. Start hunting for the stories behind your school brand...those that have been going on this summer and share them immediately as part of a brand plan.

3.  BRANDS ARE ABOUT BENEFITS 

IN brandED we think about neuroscience because marketing and brands are experts in the conscious and unconscious development of ties to their audience. Why did you buy that $7.00 cup of  Starbucks coffee and not the $1.00 Mc Donalds' version? You get some sort of brand benefit that is truly intangible.( especially to me because I love DUNKIN'!) Brands lead our imagination to a place where we get benefits from our buy. School leaders who focus on the feelings and emotions of storytelling are going after the benefits to  brand loyalty. Understand you have leadership opportunities to build loyalty that improves your community culture by  starting a school year brand strategy that impacts the prefrontal and reptilian sections of your stakeholders' brains. It's not manipulation... it's information that can help you TELL and not SELL, which is the root of brandED thinking. 

 

Exactly Where I'm Supposed to Be... A Study Abroad CASE STORY

                                                             Guest Blogger, Justine Delaunay

                                                             Guest Blogger, Justine Delaunay

When I speak to the community of Study Abroad global professionals about marketing their school's benefits with the help of their students' positive experience, Justine comes to mind. Instructors who have the H2H...Human2Human view of teaching hold an untapped resource for retention. Justine's experience confirms that caring and sharing are true marketing tools in a digital age. I'm happy to introduce her to you as she describes her study abroad experience at Baruch College. I'm sure she is amplifying her experience to her network!  Along with my partners in thought leadership, Irene Tieh, global education strategist, and Angel Ahmed of GNET Global Network, we use the term "CASE STORIES" as we present strategies to recruit and retain students. Justine's experience is a CASE STORY full of reasons why the Baruch community presented great resources to her that she is proud to share! 

 

                                    Why I Chose to Study Abroad in New York… a Place that Cares!

My name is Justine DELAUNAY. I’m a Communication & Marketing student and I’m excited to share my study abroad story.

I define myself as a passionate millennial. I’m curious about everything. I love studying and I realized that we never forget what we learn with pleasure. I seek the things that make my heart smile and I’m constantly learning. I learn from people I meet, I listen to their stories and I share mine. As a Digital Native, I follow trends and I do my best to understand the information I get and use it in a meaningful way. I love to travel, read and eat really, really good food. Let me share why chose to come to New York and show you  how valuable an international studies experience can be to a student.

A short six months ago, I decided to cross the ocean to discover and live the American life, to study and work in New York. I did one semester in Baruch College where I had the chance to learn from the best instructors I’ve met. From Brand Management to Web marketing & Integrated Social Media and Data Management, I learned so much in 4 months. Indeed, what I was used to during my 3 years of classes in France was so different from the way I studied in Baruch College. Not only are Baruch  instructors  passionate about what they do, they care about you, your aspirations and how their students can take the best from their classes. I’ve never felt this vibration, this strong feeling during a college class. A feeling that was telling me that I was exactly where I was supposed to be. From there, I enjoyed and listened. In every single class, I learned and met incredible people. During my semester, we had the chance to go out and see the real world of New York City business from Madison Avenue to Wall Street.  We visited the unique and highly regarded marketing agency, Sparks & Honey,  where we learned that connecting with people is the most important thing in business. We also worked for a mobile fundraising company rethinking its digital strategy. We listened to amazing marketers who helped us understand the real meaning of Marketing. One even said that for him, “Marketing is like a suit.” Marketing is all about the right fit for doing business!

After 4 months in New York City I returned to France with ambitions and big dreams that were fired by my study abroad experience at Baruch. Trish Rubin, who was teaching my class Brand Management, kept writing me, giving me advice and encouraging me in so many ways. In her last publication "BrandED", she talks about the importance of finding your virtual mentor. Well, I found mine. Because no one ever believed in me the way she does. After studying Brand Management with Trish, I understood that education is about connecting with people, spreading happiness to help individual’s growth.

After New York, I’ve seen opportunities coming from everywhere. I learned that if you show an honest interest in what people do, they will be ready to listen to your story. I am growing my brand. This is how I started to connect with editors-in-chief of online magazines, creative directors, artists… I learned about what they do and  I told them who I am. Little by little we realized what we could do for each other. Ivan Misner said: “People don’t care how much you know unless they know how much you care.” This is it. Virtually connecting with people is showing me that my voice counts and that with passion, curiosity and patience, door will open to great opportunities.  

Determination and self-confidence is something New York City taught me. As students, we must realize the range of opportunities and the time we have. It’s precious. Believing in myself completely changed my life, and Trish Rubin has something to do with it.

Bring the Romance Back to Leading: Three ways to Create Heart for Change

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Once upon a time in America,  TV wasn't a 24/7 source of entertainment. Black & white TV broadcasting stopped at a late hour each night respectfully allowing Americans to rest. It was a stressful time for adults and kids with the possibility of atomic attack threatening post WW2 lives. Americans needed their sleep and endless broadcasting of breaking news wasn't a glimmer in any programmer's eye. Each morning Americans woke to an expected reveille of sorts in front of a TV static test pattern. A few years into this watershed communication era, product line extension featured color TV, and more programming filled the night. 

Change happened in those days as this evolution of TV shows us, but the future beckoned in those days in a way that was romantic. Black and white TV's were the window into that future. In those bygone days we were protected as we faced those future visions of what was out there for us. The messages on TV were about being  patient. We saw the promised land of products and services, but the tone was "Get Ready" because the best is yet to come.  We set our sights on it, saved for it and imagined how good it could be when it came. From where I sat as a kid, the vision of a Jetson's like-world promised a romantic view of what life would be for me. Now, as I Skype my conferences and speak to a virtual assistant it seems worth the wait.

Today, the age of impatience is here, coupled with an age of acceleration in tech and media. Wait? Who waits? Change happens at a rate that is close to breakneck speed, taking with it our time to romanticize the future, and robbing us of the opportunity to get  ready for what is coming, We've lost the chance to think our way into believing what lies ahead is better than what we are experiencing which is important in changing an attitude and action. I teach this historic view as I teach international business students about marketing and see its application to leading.

I think leadership today has lost its edge in the romance department.

 

ROMANCING LEADERSHIP

Because of the rapid pace of change. Romance, the ultimate feeling of well-being that was a large part of a pre-digital world, has gone missing making life harder for agents of change today. Who has the time for romancing the future? In the world of social relationships any app will create a reasonable facsimile of romance in a matter of minutes. But that's not where organizations need to go with their future ready eye to change. An app is not going to create the human to human or H2H feeling that helps organizations grow.  A leader with an eye on romancing the near future could try out that classic view of being future oriented with a bit of patience. Remember Yogi Berra's quote, "The future ain't what it used to be!"  So true today because of the galloping rate of change that is part of modern life. We are leading our organizations into territory of robotics, VR and AR with little time to process the change these exciting tools bring. How can we lead our teams into this time rapid change? 

 Creating a commitment to well being through change and fostering some small but human behaviors can help you show the love that a fast-paced multi- generational workplace needs. Put a bit of romance, a throwback to an earlier time, into your leadership. These three touch points can inspire without buying everyone on your team  flowers and candy.

1. Create Well-being  The field of social science is a place to access  strategies that develop well-being in this tumultuous time. Neuroscience thought leaders and their content are available to you on Twitter and through platforms like Medium. Do some DIY work on brain research and give yourself a solid grounding. You will see your time spent on building well-being is worth it. It takes you back to a classic point of development for change. Don't think of leading change as a pitch or a sales job. Look at it as a change to tell the story of where the organization is and the story of the near future. Be the story-teller-in chief. Use the research on getting people into "The Zone" for change using a supportive model like Seligman's PERMA model featured in brandED. Work by Adam Grant is also an access point around creating well being. His book Give and Take is a great place to start. 

2. Think H2H  Leaders in business use a Business to Business (B2B) or a Business to Consumer (B2C) model as they develop change.  Bryan Kramer's work  is as close to being romantic in leadership as you can get. Human to Human behavior (H2H) is needed as we look ahead into our future of machines in the workplace. Look ahead to a world where "HR Dept of Machine Interface" will exist. How do we meet the change that brings this evolution of co-working with machines and more into our workplace.? We do it by valuing our human brand. Leading with an eye on the romanticizing the human experience as we move toward interfacing with efficient machines and robotics is essential. Personal brand development is needed for leading and building teams. As change occurs threading that value through leadership will distinguish  any leader 

3. The Power of Small  Wherever you are leading...in a start up, a school, a company take the romantic view of the small moments to heart. They create big gains in your organization. The pressure to innovate is high in the accelerated age. The power of new is upon us and  the noise of constant new ideas competes across media channels for our leadership attention. Don't get pressured into riding the wave of the next big thing that comes across your screen. Great leaders know how to tune out the shiny objects and dig into the small, classic pieces that are working in their organization and then refreshing them rather than getting into the next big thing. There are plenty of new things in the near future that look interesting to you, but first take a deep dive into what is the core of your product or service and do as the Sparks & Honey  cultural trend agency shows us. They offer support in following trends in an element of culture called the "Refreshed Classic". It's quite a romantic thing these days to be seen as a classic, even in a rapidly moving time. 

 Use approaches like these and pace yourself through new times as a classic leader.  What is often missing in change is the heart for it on the part of your organization. Adding a bit of business romance may help you create some magic in your role as change agent.