The value of Brand in the time of uncertainty

A couple of weeks back, I was in urgent need of a moisturizer and everything was closed due to lockdown except for essential services. To add to that, I have relocated to a different country recently and I am hardly familiar with my surroundings yet. I went to a shop nearby that had slots allotted to us hoping I will find one of the known brands there. I had a few minutes to browse the store and pick up something before the slot was over. With most of the labels here being in either German or Hungarian, I generally rely on Google translator for help but even that was giving trouble due to flaky connection. I couldn’t spot any familiar product on the shelf. I kept on trying to read different product descriptions with the help of the translator until I spotted this:

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Coping up with the new normal

Yesterday the internet was flooded with pictures of schools reopening in China.

These photos give me hope, hope for tomorrow, hope for normalcy but these pictures also tell me that the normal tomorrow won’t be the same as the normal earlier. 

There is going to be a clear difference in life for many of us.

The product person in me looks at these cute, beautiful hats and says – ingenious! 

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Working, parenting and everything in between – The Lockdown Diaries

That tempting coffee challenge

Those gorgeous dress-up posts

That try a new hobby drive

Those Netflix marathons

That energetic, upbeat feeling

Those read, relax, and rejuvenate slogans

If you’re not able to relate to one or any of these, you’re not alone.

If you’re a parent, working from home, trying to manage your time between work, homeschooling, household chores and keeping your child away from the screen, I hear you. I hear you saying – am I the only one who is not able to be productive?

Am I the only one who is not able to manage it all?

Like you, even I have read those how-to-be-productive-while-wfh posts, registered for multiple webinars and have prepared long to-do lists.

But let me be very honest, I haven’t attended even a single webinar till now, I haven’t counted the pending items on my to-do list but I won’t be surprised if it has reached a count of million, and those productivity tips from hundreds of experts look like written in interstellar language meant for aliens from another planet.

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Communication during the time of crisis

Be helpful, be informative, be transparent – and if you can’t be any of these, then be silent.

That’s what is expected from most of us during this time of crisis, be it brands or individuals.

This post has to be straight without any frill. The last thing that we want to see right now is non-contextual advertisements, automated messages and communication for the sake of communication! Sounds basic, isn’t it? But many aren’t following it still.

My one simple expectation from myself and everyone around me right now –

Be Human, communicate like a human.

Additionally, if possible, let’s try to –

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Digital etiquettes during the state of emergency

At times like these, you wish social media was not this widespread. 

Considering my profession, I am all in favor of digital and social, in fact, I have been an evangelist of the medium ever since digital was only about website.

But in this age of data deluge and information overload, at times I wish we knew less.

As the coronavirus is spreading across the world, so is the misinformation about it. Despite many practical and aggressive efforts by prominent social media channels, the speed at which the information and misinformation are spreading is unimaginable. 

From baseless magic cures to erroneous statistics, the virtual world is flooded with coronavirus updates from many unauthorized sources. 

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Change is never easy but possible

While sitting by the window on this cold winter morning in a very different part of the world, I can’t help myself but notice the changes that have happened in my life in the last couple of years.

It’s dark outside but about to be bright soon. The surroundings are so new and unknown but the view is oh so breathtakingly gorgeous.

What is it that’s keeping me awake at this hour? Is it Xenophobia? No, but definitely a bit of anxiety.

Anxiety for the unknown, anxiety for the new journey, anxiety for the change.

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When Brand Storytelling Works

Spotted these Amazon Storyboxes at a mall recently and they instantly made me curious to browse more. Beautiful stories presented in a beautiful way, loved this new initiative by Amazon India. Good storytelling works always, isn’t it? 

And not just storytelling, the Amazon Storybox is yet another brilliant example of the importance of packaging in marketing. Packaging changes perception, packaging reinforces the brand value and packaging sells. 

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Gift yourself some silence

When everyone is busy putting up their year-end summary, next year’s goals, party plans, holiday pictures, just take a moment to pause, breathe, and embrace silence.

A few moments of quiet are all you need in life at times.

When it all seems too overwhelming when you can’t help but notice others’ lives and when you can’t avoid the noise, just pause and embrace silence.

When you’re confused, embrace silence.

When you’re lost, embrace silence.

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Books Worth Your Time – Fiction

Hello, I hope you are having a good holiday season with ample time to relax, read and rejuvenate. I am back with my second post on year-end book recommendation, after all, what’s a holiday without some good reading :-)? You may check the first part of this post which was on marketing books, here.

As I mentioned earlier, I still love reading good fiction. Many reasons for the same but I remember jotting down some of my thoughts on this here. So, this year was no different for me, read some very insightful nonfiction and some very interesting fiction too.  Out of all that I read, I think the three that I loved the most would be the following:

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Marketing Books Worth Your Time

Winters, holidays and year-end reflective mood – perfect combination to laze around with a hot cuppa and a good book, isn’t it?

The holiday season is almost here and it’s that time of the year when you can refresh your reading list, all the good books that you wanted to read but couldn’t due to hectic life and multiple other commitments, are waiting for you to be devoured.

While I am scouting for some good books that I can try reading in the last two weeks of the year, I thought it’s also a good time for me to share some of the books that I enjoyed reading this year. I plan to do this post in 3 parts – the first one, i.e., this post is around marketing books, the second post would be on some of the good fiction that I read (oh yes, I still read fiction and absolutely love them :-)) and the third would be around life design and other interesting titles in general.

So, in marketing, I read around six titles this year. Actually I had picked two more but they were too repetitive in content to finish till the end. Those books were more like blog posts somehow dragged into a 250-page book format. Out of the six that I read, here are the three that I liked. 

Interestingly, while all three are written with different perspectives and around different areas in marketing but the crux of the content remains the same:

• Focus on your product first, a good product is your best marketing asset.

• Listen to your users, there is no substitute to direct user insights.

• What’s your story? Storytelling is the new marketing.

We know these all but how many of us actually implement or get to implement these in our day to day life? Think about it.

On that note, let me share the names of the three books around marketing and branding that you may give a try:

Building a StoryBrand: Clarify Your Message So Customers Will Listen, Reviews

 Donald Miller

Building A Story Brand – Book Review

Ever since I have entered into consulting, one pattern that I have observed with many of my clients is a huge mismatch between the effort spent on channels vs messaging. A lot of time and money gets spent in discussing tactics like email vs Facebook but very few put in systematic effort in crafting the message that will connect with their TG. If you can resonate with this, then this book is for you. 

The importance of storytelling is something that we don’t need to discuss more, I am sure by now every marketer, designer, and product manager understands and swears by the power of good storytelling. But in case you are looking to better yourself at your brand storytelling game, then you may find this book to be useful. Full of easy-to-implement ideas, and practical frameworks, this book has many takeaways for bigger brands as well as startups. Yes, at times you will get that feeling that this book is trying to sell you their premium online course but I don’t see that to be something negative and at no point, it mandates you to go for it. 

Sticky Branding: 12.5 Ways to Stand Out, Attract Customers, and Grow an Incredible Brand

– Jeremy Miller

Sticky Branding – Book Review

I got attracted to this title as the review at many places said it’s meant for brands with smaller budgets. Packed with insightful examples from different industries, this one is a great read for those who are starting with marketing and brand building for their businesses and would like to understand how to build an engaging brand. All the principles and philosophies explained in different chapters of the book, end with exercises that make it a great playbook with actionable strategies. 

Do Purpose: Why brands with a purpose do better and matter more

– David Hieatt

Do Purpose – Book Review

A very easy read for a very difficult subject i.e., the purpose of your brand and how to build it. This book was an accidental find during one of my visits to the British Library. Initially, it looked something short and sweet but for the size of the book, it’s quite informative and to the point. While the title might make you think that it’s a branding book but most of the information shared is actually quite relevant to having a purpose and goal in life and entrepreneurship in general. If you can manage to find this one, do give this a try. This title is a part of the Do Books series and I liked it so much that I am already planning to read other titles from this series. 

Which branding/marketing/product marketing books caught your attention this year? Let me know if you have any recommendations that I can try.