Friday, September 08, 2006

A few Fantasy Football tips for all you crazed NFL Fans

Though I profess not to be a fantasy gamer, that doesn't mean I still don't keep track of the players and my friends weekly contests. That said, I came across a few tips for those of you crazed NFL addicts.
These sounded good and made sense especially over the long 17 week season!
1) Have faith in your line-up. Meaning keep an even keel as long as possible because you will endure many highs and lows over the next few weeks. Try to keep your eyes on the prize and stay focused for the long haul.
2) Use the waver wire wisely. Use it to your advantage when you need assistance in certain areas. Pay attention to players who show consistent production over the first three or four weeks. Then make your choice.
3) Beware the one week wonders! A good start doesn't make a Pro Bowl season. Kerry Collins could throw for 265 yards and three touchdowns in Week 1 last year but that didn't equate to him posting similar every week. After the season, he was dumped. Don't let go of Daunte Culpepper to pick up Alex Smith because Smith had better stats in Week 1. Patience is a virtue. But, know your opponent and their weeknesses!
4) Avoid the 'rook' fever. Other than Reggie Bush, expecting that rookie to make a huge impact on your squad is a bit pie-in-the-sky. Though Matt Leinart, Vince Young and Jay Cutler may prove to pay off later in the season, especially in keeper leagues, go with proven vets in your lineup. Rookies tend to fluctuate; to many variables. Although, I do like Leinart's chances given Warner's injury propensity the last few years. He will throw up some huge numbers once Kurt takes a shower.
5) Use depth to your advantage. If you've got tons of talent at one position, then don't be afraid to package a starter along with a second-tier starter in a midseason trade to pick up a top running back and bolster your squad for the postseason push. Few teams make it to the Super Bowl without adding to their roster down the stretch.
Hopefully these few tips will help ease some of the pre-game stress rituals I know most of you anguish over every week.
Here's to a great season and the Steelers winning number 6!
And may all your waves never end and your wind be sustaining.

Friday, September 01, 2006

Having a Smashable Brand?

Smash your brand! That's what Martin Lindstrom, self-proclaimed Brand futurist, advocated just a short time ago.

Running with the mindset that traditional advertising no longer works, Martin advocates you might need to Smash your brand!

In the New York Times June '04, an article revealed that the overall effective influence of tv commercials decreased by 52% in just over ten years. In contrast, the cost of producing those same tv commercials increased more than 130% over the time frame. This was a clear indication that the traditional paths of brand building were slowly drying up, forcing savy marketers to re-think their missions and search for alternatives.

An invention from the early days of the twentieth century provided the answer based on Martin's hypothesis.

Many of you will recognize this story from early Marketing 101 classes in college.

In 1915, a designer from the Root Glass Company of Terre Haute, Indiana was asked to design a glass bottle. The brief was pretty straightforward. They wanted a bottle that even when broken, the pieces would still be recognizable as part of the whole. The designer succeeded beyond his wildest dreams. He designed the classic Coke bottle, which has gone on to become one of the most famous glass icons ever. The bottle is still in service, it's still recognizable, and has been passing the smash test for every new generation over the last 80 years.

The Coke bottle story is fascinating from a brand-building perspective. In theory, all brands should be able to pass this test. So, working on this principle, if you removed the logo from your brand, would it still be recognizable? In fact, it would be worthwhile to know, because to place too great an emphasis on a brand?s logo carries risks. Least of all there is a danger of neglecting all the other potential brand-building opportunities. If paid due attention, many other aspects of the product become recognizable in their own right. Color, navigation, texture, sound and shape. Even blindfolded, you'd know you're holding a classic Coke bottle. Would advertising copy enhance it? Will the colors, graphics, images or even packaging design individually pass the smash test?

Smashing your brand requires attention to every facet beyond just your logo. You need to look at signal, tone, touch, shape of your product, merchandising and its wrapping. Owning a Smashable color creates an emotional bond between the consumer and your consumable product. Martin goes on to say color isn't the only thing which can create a truly Smashable brand. Pictures or photos, your language, icons, rituals garner brand identities.

Take a few seconds and digest that. If your product doesn't pass the taste test, so-to-speak, then maybe it should be augmented to try and attract consumers on a whole new level.
He uses McDonalds as a perfect example. Arguably one of the best known brands in the world, McDonald's uses the Mac in their name to every possible advantage. Whether "their world is awash with Big Macs, McNuggets, McMuffins and even McSundays", the vernacular has become part of our every day lives. My buddies and I often use Mac before some of our words in everday conversation. How many brands out there can make that claim?

Martin claims the idea of smashing your brand is simple. "Identifying the components you want to be famous for and leverage the fact that the logo is only a very small component of your overall brand visibility is key. Consider what your brand should be well known for in five years time from today and then consistently begin to build up the association with your signals. But be consistent and be persistent. Changing strategy half- way can be dangerous. Ex. IBM is no longer associated with Big Blue ? Pepsi has taken over. Why? Because these companies had taken their ownership of these essential colors for granted. Even if this means that you can find the Coca-Cola logo in a blue, green and orange versions in the UK."

Smashing your brand is in fact all about keeping focus on everything beyond the logo, because a good 90 percent of the real estate on your product or service should also be branded. When every other aspect of your product is branded, you have a truly smashable brand.

So, what are you waiting for exactly. Get to Smashing your product!

Till next time, may your wind never fail and may it sustain 13+mph!

Guys Night Out- Part Three

Part 3 of the 'Guys Night Out' installments begins like the others, as it revolves around an assembly of self-assured friends who meet infrequently to both catch up on current events and to ever grasp at the fleeting fountain of youth.

Current events range from our travels, both personal and business, to wives, girlfriends, movies seen, books read, of course politics, sports, and irrevokably about how we've all seemed to age overnight. We're left pondering where our youth has gone. At one point, we were engaged in a conversation about how much closer the four of us were to the magic age of 50 than to the other milestone 20? Next, as if inexplicably we were gloating, mind you, over the fact that certain members of this rabble had been carted while attemting to procure alcohol recently and were proud of it. At this point in our lives, it's a compliment to get carted. Albeit these days, all those who sell alcohol are supposed to cart everyone attempting to purchase. But, none-the-less it stokes the youthful fires to hear, "Wow you don't look that old?" or "That can't be right?". Keep the compliments coming I say.

That's right. Our conversation sunk to an all time low, well actually its been much lower, but how sad is it when a bunch of older dudes, oh I shudder to write that, get together and pontificate over how many times they've been carted since their last encounter.

Oh well, as usual there were many laughs and that's the key to eternal youth my friends. That combined with ample exercise, and travel (I know its a stretch but it sounds good).

Tying the carting aspect in as a common theme, we harmoniously and ironically all agreed the four of us look younger than our age because of our constant activities. That younger look could be tied to the fact that all of us are sports fanatics. The guys participate on a regular basis in basketball, softball, flag football, and weightlifting. Yours truly runs on a daily basis and when possible kite boards. Having recently picked up what could be the hardest sport I've ever attempted, I attempt to hone the newly formed skill whenever I'm in Shangri-La (a.k.a. KDH in the Outer Banks, NC).

We all travel a bit; whether for personal or business purposes. The guys travel quite a bit for work and I admit am envious. For travel seems to energize us as well. It allows us to shed our usual shell and take on another for a short time. Whether for pleasure or business; for a weekend or longer, that time away gives us different perspectives on life. And those perspectives add memories to our lives which keep the youthful tides flowing.

Those activities combined with the fact we all laugh at ourselves and others for that matter kkep us young at heart. For, if you can't laugh easily then you've lost a bit of youthful exhuberence and sadly are aging exponentially faster than your peers. For laughter is addictive.
So, what did we learn this last go-around. Getting older isn't such a bad thing as long as you keep everything in perspective and stay young at heart. Whether you travel, exercise, or laugh on a regular basis, you can remain youthful inside, as well as out, and keep positive perspectives on life and friendships knowing those friends keep all perpetuating the others!

Till next time may your wind be constant and above 13mph :).