Who Nose the true Story?

Who Nose the Story?

Ten years into the great depression, the year is 1939, Bob looks across his shabby two room apartment at his wife lying on the couch; the same place she has been fighting terminal cancer for the last two years. His mind drifts towards the endless growing pit of medical bills that he cannot afford. Life is one day at a time. From across the room his little girl Barbara May, bounces onto his lap. Her innocent eyes peer into his;

“Daddy,” she asked, “Why isn’t my Mommy just like everybody else’s mommy?”

Robert L. May is no stranger to being different, growing up, he was much smaller than his peers, so for most of his childhood he too found himself left out and made fun of. These experiences and, his latest charge from his employer, Montgomery Ward, to write their 1939 children’s Christmas giveaway book, all culminated at this moment. Barbara put her head on her daddy’s shoulder and he began to tell this story that he would later write for Montgomery Ward:

“Once upon a time there was a reindeer named Rudolph — the only reindeer in the whole world that had a big, red nose. Naturally, people called him Rudolph, the Red – Nosed Reindeer.” You know the rest of the story…

In life most of us spend countless hours and dollars trying to fit in. We try to be like everyone else. We forget that it is those little key, and sometimes big differences, that truly set us apart. They make us beautiful, unique and special. In business, that difference is equally important. History has shown over and over that in times of recession this difference becomes even more critical. Customers are yearning for good value, a clear compelling reason to spend their hard earned dollars. In these tough times if every “apple” looks the same, customers always pick the cheapest one. Yet, in spite of hundreds of years of research and recorded history, an article from the November, 2008 issue of Profit Magazine further emphasizes this point. It states that only 7 out of 3000 chief executives were able to communicate a meaningful point of differentiation!

2011 is the time to effectively communicate what makes you different. The year is not about big advertising budgets and flashy marketing campaigns – its about having a clear understanding of your difference and communicating it effectively, one person at time. What is your story?……… Oh, yes, and lets not forget that kind hearted father, Robert L May, who wrote the classic Christmas story of the courageous little reindeer, with the glowing nose leading hundreds of thousands of children (and adults) to that destination of the celebration of what makes us different.

Merry Christmas and all the best in the New Year!

The Best Job on Earth!

The Best Job on Earth!

So here’s the skinny, you do the same job every year, work tonnes of overtime, deal with billions of clients, have huge manufacturing flows, wear a funny uniform, live at a freezing work camp, your boss gets all the credit, the nearest Starbucks is a thousand miles away, and you have the strictest delivery timetable in the world. Sound like a dream job? Well, for Santa’s 13 elves, there’s no better job on earth! Legend has it that over a thousand years ago under extreme persecution a group of elves left their homeland in Scandinavia to work for their distant relative at the North Pole. Today those same 13 elves, under the direction of their jolly old leader, continue to meet the tight deadline every time, and have the highest customer satisfaction ratings in the industry.

So with all the current challenges facing HR departments across the globe, how does Santa manage to retain his staff for hundreds of years? Santa remembers what too many of us forget, our first customer is our staff. Think about it, the average employee spends around 40 to 60% of their waking life at work, so once you get past the functional benefit of salary, what’s left to work for? And why should they do it for you? Things like self worth, making a difference, being a part of the big picture; pride and fulfillment come into play. Is your company effectively communicating these brand benefits? Again, looking to Santa, we see his external delivery of the brand promise of Hope, is being balanced by his internal motivation to every elf, that they play an integral part in fulfilling that promise – extending Hope. Just ask an elf what they do and they will instantly repeat the mantra, “I make toys for good little girls and boys, so that children around the world can have a Merry Christmas!” How powerful is that!

One of my favorite historical examples of this, though it may be an urban legend, is the story of an unannounced visit by President John F. Kennedy to the space center at Cape Canaveral in the mid 1960’s. Kennedy toured the complex and met a janitor mopping the floors. “What do you do here?” he asked. A big smile came across the face of the janitor, who replied, “Mr. President, I’m helping to put a man on the moon.”

Most of us will not be making toys for all the good little girls and boys or putting a man on the moon this Christmas, however, make the time to inspire your staff, your first customer, and while you’re at it, a little Christmas cheer never hurts.

Merry Christmas!

Santa’s Even Bigger Than Coke!

Santa’s even bigger than Coke!

As Forbes put it: “He runs a multinational enterprise that combines uncanny customer intelligence, superb information management and world-class service. He leads a logistical tour de force that spans the globe and delivers the goods, just in time. And he does it all with a warm – some would say jolly – panache that is impossible to forget. His name: Santa Claus.” Santa’s Identity is so powerful that Best Global Brand of 2006, Coca-Cola (brand evaluated at 67-billion dollars by Interbrand) could not hold him back.

Little known to most is that 2006 was the 75 anniversary of the famous Coca-Cola Santa that was created in 1931. Before this makeover Santas image was loosely based on a combination of many ideas. In 1931 Coke commissioned the illustrator Haddon Sundblom to create an Image of Santa for their new advertising campaign and Santa has looked the same ever since.

Today Santa is ubiquitous, no one remembers that Santa and Coke were at one time partners, as a matter of arguable fact, Santa’s even bigger than Coke! He is the envy of Identity Engineers, brand managers, marketing professionals and students worldwide.

Take a look at Santa’s brand, he represents hard work, reward, and goodness. He is a jolly, fair, and giving person, his generosity is contagious. He is a global leader in the category of Hope, and he has a consistent delivery of this brand promise. He knows his customer so well…..he knows when they are sleeping and he knows when their awake. He makes them feel special. Santa is the king of consistency, he wears the same red outfit every year, he doesn’t try to change it and he’s never tempted to go on a diet.

Santa has never spent a penny on advertising, he fully understands the Customer Journey, he has advocates in place (parents) who start managing the journey right from their childrens very first christmas, even if, heaven forbid, parents stop believing, they will continue to advocate because they know they will benefit from their childrens good behavior. He is bar none, the worlds most sought after spokesperson every brand wants to associate with him. Everyone supports his mission and he is in a large part responsible for hundreds of billions in sales and charitable donations every year.

So what can we learn from this? I believe William Arruda said it best “take some tips from the man in the red suit. Stand out. Be consistent. Create an emotional connection. Remain visible to your target audience. And don’t forget to surround yourself with brand evangelists who can carry your message for you. Whether you believe in him or not, Santa is a model for branding that we can all strive to attain.”

Merry Christmas!