leadership dot #2465: keyboard

The distinctive burgundy “M” that represents the University of Minnesota has taken on new life as a novel branding tool: a keyboard sticker that covers the standard “M”. Now when alumni or friends use their computer they are reminded of their affinity to the school.

I am surprised it took this long for the keyboard to turn into a billboard but think of the many options for others to capitalize on this well-used space. Other schools could perpetuate their logo, say an orange “T” for Tennessee fans, a red “W” for Wisconsinites, or an “N” for the Big Red Nebraska supporters.

Other businesses or charities could do the same: a multi-colored “G” for Google; Obama’s distinctive “O”, the Facebook “f”, Pinterest “P”, McDonald’s “M” or slanted “Y” from the YMCA. Once you start looking, single-letter logos are everywhere.

In real estate, the saying is “location, location, location.” The same goes for marketing. Don’t overlook ways to incorporate your brand into the most used locations of your friends and fans.

leadership dot #2458: insomnia

For an example of a business that provides a novel twist on a common product, look no further than Insomnia Cookies. There is nothing special about the variety of cookies they offer, but you can get them warm – and delivered – until 3 a.m.

It’s not surprising that outlets are commonly located near major universities where hungry students may take advantage of the middle-of-the-night hours, nor is it unexpected that they don’t do deliveries until noon on weekends. But they have created a niche where in less than an hour can have your sweet treat, at your door complete with a la mode if you so desire.

Insomnia Cookies has built their business around their hours – having little competition for delivered snacks after midnight – and convenience. Hot breakfast sandwich delivery? Rent-a-dog? “Speed services” (like speed dating) to help you decide on which church to visit?

What about you? Think about how you can take your existing product or service and present it in a new way. Maybe an idea will come to you at 2am when you are eating your cookies!

leadership dot #2445: good morning

According to Walgreens, more people forget to take their daily medication as prescribed than read People magazine! That is a staggering statistic – and a problem that they are taking steps to address.

Walgreens now offers a JoinRx program where you can sign up to receive a daily reminder by text. It’s another way that the company is leading the way with the application of technology toward its goal of being convenient.

Think of the products or services your organization provides – is there a gap in how customers use it that you could fill with a new tech application? Walgreens’ ad proclaims “America’s wake up call” –and it doesn’t just apply to subscribers. JoinRx should be a wake up call to other organizations, too. Walgreens has just increased expectations everywhere for others to go another step further in providing service.

“Good morning – this is your pharmacy calling!”

To subscribe: Text JoinRx to 21525

leadership dot #2440: rock you

I can’t say that I am a big Queen fan, but, like most people, I can stomp my feet and clap in the appropriate places during the song We Will Rock You. What surprised me when I saw the movie Bohemian Rhapsody was that the addition of these participative elements was intentional – put there specifically to create a role in the song for audiences.

After noticing that fans were singing along at concerts, the band decided that they should write music to intentionally engage their audience and scripted music that called out for specific clapping or stomping at designated places. Queen was a pioneer in this area and their fan engagement helped to solidify their legacy and enduring presence on the music scene.

Think about whether there are moments in your organization’s programs that may now have spontaneous client involvement but could be strengthened with intentionality. Could you add targeted participation in a church service beyond the usual rote responses or songs? Is there an opportunity to allow clients to make something and have a tangible takeaway from a conference or workshop? Can you create places where clients interact with a mascot or photo booth in your establishment? Or maybe it’s something as simple as leaving out Post-its or a blank wall where those who pass by can add comments.

Try one thing today that invites someone else to rock with you.

leadership dot #2438: close knit

Pantone, the company that specializes in color, has recently found a way to share its expertise in a new market. Pantone has paired with Caron yarn and now offers a new selection of yarn that comes pre-packaged in a color palette – pairing shades that the average person may not have combined, but that Pantone knows will make a beautiful product.

Caron could have made its own mix of colors, but instead relied on the credibility of Pantone to add a distinction over other generic yarn offerings. It seems like a wise move for both companies.

Who is an expert outside your field that could enhance your organization? Maybe it’s time you knit your interests together in a colorful partnership.

leadership dot #2424: pinky swear

I had trouble ordering something on Tom’s website and so I sent an email to customer service to resolve the issue. “We’re closed now,” it said. “But we’ll get back to you soon – pinky swear.”

I thought it was a clever way to sign their message but apparently, their “pinky swear” meant about as much as it did in grade school — as I never received a reply.

Consumers can handle almost anything you throw at them – delays, price increases, being closed – but people don’t do well with unkept promises.

Forget the cuteness and just align your messaging and expectations with reality. A promise made should be a promise kept, no pinky required.

leadership dot #2423: free of charge

If your brand was based on safety and you invented a major safety improvement, you may be tempted to keep it for yourself. But that’s not what Volvo did.

The modern-day seatbelt/shoulder strap was created for Volvo in 1959, and they immediately released the patent free-of-charge to other manufacturers to use. Volvo put safety ahead of profit and felt the invention was “so significant” that it needed to be shared. They were right, as this one safety enhancement has been credited for saving over a million lives.

Volvo engineer Nils Bohlin worked to make improvements to the lap strap, and to do so in a way that would be easy to use yet effective. His invention has been credited as “the most successful contribution to safety in the history of motoring” and earned him a place in the Automotive Hall of Fame.

Today, we take seat belts for granted and probably never stop to think of the engineering that went into creating them or to appreciate the impact that Volvo had by freely sharing its invention. But today’s organizations would be well served to follow Volvo’s lessons in sharing. Sometimes you reap the most from what you give away.

Thanks, Meg!