Articles: Strategy

What is brand?

Brand is a top priority for many businesses, but it often lacks a clear definition, owner, or action plan. People frequently conflate the term “brand” with related concepts like vision, awareness, positioning, and design, and so it never really gets articulated, and therefore never really gels. I’ve been doing brand work for a long time, across a wide range of clients—from massive global conglomerates to edgy startups to small local businesses, and everything in between. Personally I’ve…


It’s (not) complicated

We all understand simple mechanical systems like pulleys. Complex systems, like rain forests, however, work differently. They exhibit unique characteristics, including modularity, homeostasis, self-organization, resilience, emergence, non-linearity, inter-dependence with other complex systems, and collapse. In work and life, we encounter complex systems every day. They include: Human brains Human bodies Human relationships Organizational cultures Financial markets Digital media ecosystems Competitive business environments Global climate One sure-fire way to make big mistakes is to expect complex systems to behave like simple ones. You’ll…


Three kinds of strategy

When people ask about the kind of consulting work I do, I often describe it as business, brand, and marketing strategy. These three kinds of strategy are separate but related. Doing any one in isolation produces an inferior result. Business strategy, without thought about how it comes to life in people’s hearts and minds, tends to be a PowerPoint deck that sits in a drawer. Marketing strategy that doesn’t accurately synch with the underlying business and brand…


Built to Leap

One of the questions I’ve been asked most frequently in the past year is whether I think Google+ will put Facebook out of business. Or vice versa. Either way my answer is no. Some context: I am an early adopter and daily user of both platforms. I’ve studied their businesses and believe they work very differently. I predict both companies will continue to thrive for a long time. But there is one distinction I would make. I think…


Strategic planning made simple

I love strategic planning. When done well, at the right time, it’s useful and clarifying. When done poorly, or at the wrong time, it’s soul-sucking. Instead of accelerating your business, it can grind it to a halt. A quick web search will turn up many strategic planning resources, all describing the same elephant. Thankfully there is a general consensus about what a strategic plan is and does. Some of those readily-available frameworks are quite detailed, and in…