A Brand to Die For

I am often asked, “What does it take to create a successful marketing campaign?” The reality, at the heart of it all, is the client’s brand essence; how that brand is represented and how to and perceived by the market. All successful marketing and advertising strategies spring forth from this basic tenet – brand essence.

What qualities does the brand stand for? What can the brand do for me, as a consumer, or member? How can the brand enrich my life or otherwise provide me value?

These are some of the questions that consumers silently ask themselves as they interact with the messages and touchpoints that are related to your brand.

But what does it take to create a brand that people identify with, support or spend their money on? How does one create a brand…well, to die for?

As a Social Intelligence Architect, I must continually hone my skills for the benefit of my clients. This means always advancing my understanding of social and communication dynamics. As a result, I can create effective messaging scenarios derived from a strong brand essence. The result is targeted traffic and ultimately sales, for my clients.

The agencies that represent entities like Nike, Target, Dell, Microsoft and countless others understand social and communication dynamics and deliver prime examples of successful brands. But other brands which you probably wouldn’t even consider (yet are perhaps even more influential), can illustrate the power that a brand can hold and deliver within a given marketplace.

The Most Powerful Brands You Would Never Think Of

You wouldn’t normally think of the Hell’s Angels, the Latin Kings or the Mexican Mafia as “brands,” but they most certainly are. In fact, these brands exhibit some of the strictest brand management strategies in existence and it’s paid-off for these entities in event the most turbulent of times.

The Hell’s Angels, for example, are a legitimate California business entity known as the Hells Angels Motorcycle Corporation (HAMC); replete with corporate bylaws and yes, a very well-known brand. HAMC, in the past has brought suit against market giants like the Walt Disney World Company over infringement of their brand. HAMC is very strict – even with their own members – as to how the HAMC logo and related, accompanying patches are to be arranged and displayed. Simply to be allowed to don the coveted official leather vest with logo is even an arduous process that only a select few are offered. And even then, the HAMC logo and patches must be worn in adherence with the corporate guidelines.

The Latin Kings brand is a gold colored 5-point crown on a black background. The 5-points and the black and gold colors all signify specific attributes about the brand (its essence). The 5-points, indeed, represent love, respect, sacrifice, honor, and obedience. Gold represents the sun and a bright future, while the black represents the past.

The Mexican Mafia’s brand is an open hand with the letter inside the palm. The M, of course, signifies the Mexican Mafia and is its established moniker; known and respected the world over.

Each of these organizations has developed a fierce following from both “internal” members and “external” admirers. Each has a brand management system (and a related code of conduct) which ensures their members utilize and represent the brands in only the ways specified by the entities themselves. Deviation from these brand management and conduct guidelines can result in death.

Truly, these are brands that people die for. But why?

In no way am I condoning gangland-style tactics or illicit activities, nor am I suggesting the use of violence, fear, or intimidation in your customer loyalty programs and brand acceptance strategies.

All sociological arguments aside, there remains an interestingly powerful component to these brands. Never mind that inculcated members have replaced their allegiances to God, country and family with allegiance to the brand and all that it encompasses. The real take-away from this striking analogy is the weight that each of these brands carry to those who are not gang members, but yearn to be.

The answer to creating a brand that people identify with, support or spend their money on is born out of a necessity that it helps to fulfill. In the case of these gang examples, their brands evolved to represent solutions to their “consumers’” needs; the need to be accepted, the need to have shelter, the need for protection, etc…

Five Important Senior Travel Tips

Often when we near retirement, seniors have big dreams of all the places they want to visit. However, as we get older, traveling often isn’t quite the delight we hoped it would be. Although it can be great fun traveling to new places and meeting new people, the logistics of traveling can be challenging for many seniors.This is especially true if you are traveling alone. However, with some advance planning, you can make your next trip much more pleasant and enjoyable. Here are some travel tips that I follow myself, to make sure my trips are as enjoyable as possible.First, consider your particular health conditions. If you need to take medication daily and you are traveling internationally, it is important to make sure that you always carry medications and copies of your medication list with you at all times. Never check your medications in airline baggage, as you may be facing a life threatening situation if your baggage gets lost.Second, plan well in advance. Although spontaneity is great for many things in life, as we age, making well thought out travel plans is very important. This is especially true for those who face mobility challenges. For example, if you have trouble standing in lines for a long time or climbing stairs, then you will want to avoid situations that requires this. Ask the questions you need to ask before you leave on your trip.Third, make back up plans as well. Even the best plans can backfire, and having a contingency plan for when things do not go as planned is important as well. Although the idea of making not one, but two (and maybe even three) travel itineraries may seem overwhelming, if things go wrong you will be very happy you made the effort.Four, travel as lightly as possible. You do not need the added difficulty of lugging heavy bags around. There are some wonderful new luggage models that have very useful features such as wheels and multiple handles. Don’t go with the cheapest you can find either, as you want your luggage to be durable and last.Finally, always think about safety. Seniors are often the target of pickpockets and thieves. Consider investing in a money belt, and maybe even carry a decoy purse or wallet with only a little money in it in case you get robbed.With proper thought and preparation, you will find that your journeys are much more comfortable, safe and enjoyable!

What Are the Components of a Renters Insurance Policy?

A renters insurance policy protects the contents of a rented property against losses incurred due to theft, fire or damage due to a hurricane and other natural disasters. Renters insurance also offers protection for liability. It pays for liability for accidents, such as a visitor slipping on your floor and breaking an arm. This type of insurance is primarily designed to protect consumers from unexpected financial hardships.Renters policies specifically state what it insures against. There is a standard set of named perils covered by a renters insurance policy. Some of them are fire, lightning, windstorm, smoke, vandalism or malicious mischief, theft and accidental discharge of water due to a burst pipe. It can also include payment for the medical expenses of non-residents. Floods and earthquakes are oftentimes purchased separately from the renters policy in coastal areas and places prone to either. In most cases, windstorm coverage is also purchased as a rider to the main renters policy.Renters policies use two methods of valuation of the home contents, these are the actual cash value and the replacement cost. The actual cash value pays only for what the belongings were worth at the time of the loss. A household appliance worth about $500 three years before will cost significantly lower at the time of loss. On the other hand, the replacement cost will reimburse policy-holders for the actual cost of the property at the time of the loss.Highly expensive items such as jewelry and antique should be declared at the time of purchase as separate policies or rider policies might need to be issued for these items. If highly expensive items are not declared, the policy-holder will not be able to recover the possible losses pertaining to these items.It is wise to inventory all the belongings to ensure adequate compensation for loss. The inventory should include the value and serial number of every item. Policy-holders should also keep the receipts of expensive items in another place, preferably outside of the house to ensure proper documentation and safekeeping.If the dwelling becomes uninhabitable due to a burst pipe or a fire, the insurance policy will pay for additional living expenses. Certain types of rented property have additional benefits. Condominium units usually come with a waterbed liability provision so that in the event that a waterbed bursts, the policy will cover the water damage caused to the unit under the policy-holder’s package. In terms of pets, there are insurance providers that do not underwrite renters policies for customers owning certain dog breeds.A renters insurance policy is an effective way of protecting the property and its occupants from unforeseen expenses. Paying for the rent might take its toll on a person’s purse and making sure that no additional and unexpected expense comes one’s way to add more financial burden would be a wise move.