Category: Uncategorized

TEDx Herndon Recap

Tate Linden speaking at TEDx Herndon. Photo by Lindsay Benson Garrett, 2015.

On March 14th (Pi Day), people gathered in the Industrial Strength Theater in Herndon, VA to have their minds stuffed with new ideas and stretched by different perspectives. The theater had an intimate black box style, allowing for interaction with the invite-only audience. 

Sixteen speakers and performers covered a wide swath of topics ranging from green architecture futures to modern dance duets to the value of unhappiness. The talk about how to use unhappiness as an incredible tool was delivered by none other than our President & Chief Strategic Consultant, Tate Linden.

You may ask how one goes about preparing for a TEDx talk. In working alongside Tate every day I witnessed first hand how it goes down. 

First – lots of cursing. Then plenty of excitement. Then the realization that “damn, this is harder than it looks, let’s edit this speech for the millionth time.”

It was a challenge to whittle down the concept from one hefty theory and model that Stokefire has used to help global organizations achieve remarkable success into a 15 minute insightful presentation highlighting the most critical step in the recipe. (And let’s be clear, I wasn’t even doing the work – Tate was.) But the distillation was not even the hardest piece – that part showed up when Tate grabbed the bull by the horns and confronted his largest source of unhappiness in over 20 years. 

It was intense, it was surprising, and when he walked off the stage the audience gave a standing ovation with tear streaked faces. 

Way to make us proud, Tate. 

The video will be out in a few weeks. We can’t wait to share it with you!

About TEDx

TED is a nonprofit group that focuses on spreading worthwhile ideas throughout the world in a series of events and conferences. Known as TED Talks, these events typically feature the leading thinkers and doers of the world that speak on a matter of different subjects for 18 minutes at a time. Previous global speakers include Bill Gates, Al Gore, and Jane Goodall, among others. TEDx events are community planned and coordinated independently in the style of the global TED event.

Super Bowl Reactions – 2015

The New England Patriots beat the Seattle Seahawks in an exciting game this Super Bowl Sunday with a score of 28-24. Woohoo. All we cared about were the ads though. Apparently 2015 is the year of dad love and screaming goats.

We captured the reactions from the peanut gallery for you – below are some of the quotes heard ‘round the chip bowl.

Dove Men+Care – “Real Strength”


WTF? Dads don't smell.


Nissan – “With Dad”


Every time Dad drives he crashes. Nissan is obviously for idiots. That's what I'm taking away from that.


Toyota – “To Be A Dad”


Where's the love for Mom?!

Look Up

Drowning in Social Media?

As you’re aware of, the usage of social media has exploded over the last couple of years and there are no indicators saying our usage will decrease. Five years ago platforms like Instagram, Snapchat and Vine didn’t even exist and Facebook had just launched their “Like” button. Today, these platforms are seen everywhere and they are being used both by private users and by businesses for advertising purposes. A recent study states that there are now 1.7 billion social media users in the world and today’s technology allows us to be connected wherever and whenever.

A lot of the discussions and reports about social media usage are about youths and how their online communication can make them less interactive and social outside the world of social media platforms. However, in my opinion there are also other potential problems that could appear, for example: how can parent’s usage of social media affect their young kids?

Let’s take an example. Every morning, Mondays through Thursdays, I get on the same bus, which takes me to Stokefire’s HQ. Since a lot of people are commuting, it’s not unusual that you start to recognize your fellow-passengers. During my trips I’ve noticed a young woman, approximately in her early thirties, who always travels with a young girl, most likely her daughter (they look very much alike). I’m a person who very much enjoys observing my surroundings, and what I’ve noticed over the last couple of months is that the mother almost always looks down on her smart phone when I get on, until she and her daughter get off about fifteen minutes later. I have several times seen how the young girl seeks attention from her mother, for example by pulling the sleeve of the mother’s jacket or by trying to start a conversation, almost always without any positive response.

I have no idea what their interaction looks like during the rest of the day, but I’m curious how this type of behavior from parents can affect their kids in the long-run. I believe it’s very important for every individual to feel like they are being seen already from young age, since it helps build self-confidence and self-esteem. So what can happen when parents and their children are disconnected due to social media? Will these kids grow up and become attention seekers? Are they going to have a hunger for endorsement? Will they seek short-term acknowledge from online connections in the shape of likes and re-tweets?

Don’t get me wrong. I love social media and use it daily, but I’m also aware of how addictive it can be and how disconnected it can make you from the real world. It’s crucial for every user to remind themselves once in a while that there is a real world outside Facebook, Twitter, Instagram etc.

How do you use social media and how does it affect those around you? That’s something worth reflecting about.

With that said, I would also like to share with you that this is my very last post here. I’m heading back to Sweden for my last semester before I earn my Bachelor’s Degree and even though I’m very excited about that, I’m not as happy to leave Stokefire. I’ve had an awesome time here as an intern and I’ve learned so much valuable knowledge which is going to help me in my upcoming career. New adventures await, and I’m looking very much forward to see what the future brings to me.

Thank you for a couple of awesome months, Stokefire!

Searching for Steve Jobs’s “Dent In The Universe.”

Posted by: Tate Linden

Did Jobs make a dent in the universe? Damned if I know. Frankly, I can’t find a place far enough back to see for sure.

“We’re here to put a dent in the universe. Otherwise why else even be here?”
– Attributed to Steve Jobs

Actually, Jobs probably didn’t say that. At least the real one didn’t. Noah Wylie said this exact line in The Pirates of Silicon Valley while playing Jobs in a made-for-TV movie. Martin Burke (the director of the movie) admitted that he never actually interviewed Jobs, though he did “have two or more sources that verify each scene” which means that all he knows is that something like that happened, but not what was really said. Even wikiquote lists it as unsourced.

Noted leadership expert (and author of Organizing Genius) Dr. Warren Bennis (or perhaps his coauthor, Patricia Ward Biederman) hedged, writing in 1996,

To echo Steve Jobs, whose Great Group at Apple created the Macintosh, each of these groups “put a dent in the universe.”

Dr. Bennis uses the phrase again twice in 1997 in the same interview with David Gergen in reference to the ideas discussed in Organizing Genius and in another interview in 1998 Dr. Bennis is back to loosely referencing Jobs’s denting.

Jump forward to 2001 and Philip Elmer-Dewitt also uses it twice in an article for Time Magazine:

He loved to tell his designers that the computer they were building — with its icons, its pull-down menus and its mouse — would not only change the world, but also “put a dent in the universe.”

In the future, says Levy, “we will cross the line between substance and cyberspace with increasing frequency, and think nothing of it.” That’s what Jobs would call a dent in the universe.

Upon his death we see the likes of Macworld and Discovery News cite the quote and reference a Time Magazine article that doesn’t say anything about the context or timing.

But it’s Playboy, of all the publishers in the world, that comes through  and actually finds Jobs’s dent under a pile of 15,000 words in an interview he gave way back in 1985. Jobs says,

At Apple, people are putting in 18-hour days. We attract a different type of person‐‑a person who doesn’t want to wait five or ten years to have someone take a giant risk on him or her. Someone who really wants to get in a little over his head and make a little dent in the universe.

So, while I can’t confirm that he made a dent in the universe, nor that Noah Wylie was quoting him directly with his often referenced script reading, it’s probably safe to assume that Jobs was at least thinking about the issues.

What bugs me more than the way this quote has grown from something he did say into something that he likely didn’t is the fact that he would think of it at all. For a man that smart and talented to choose a sledgehammer as his tool of choice seems… wrong. A dent gets stuffed with Bondo and buffed out. Pretty sure he didn’t actually want that to happen. Maybe I’ll look into it in my next post if there’s interest from the (possibly dented) world-at-large.

 

The Site’s Unfrozen! (If a touch quirky.)

Okay, so here’s the deal.

About two months ago we said we were almost ready with the new website. Shortly thereafter, and completely by surprise, our resident web and social media expert took leave to bring unto the world a son. Which he did admirably, and with some assistance, we hear.

And then here’s the other part of the deal.

Social-web guy’s last day is tomorrow (Thursday). So his second baby has been forced to follow the first by only a few weeks.  The website was online before close of business today, giving us a full day to offer high fives, Irish fist-bumps, and the occasional suggestion that a typo or code snippet be tweaked.

So there you have it.

And you also have about 14 hours remaining in which you can report any errors or omissions on the site. After that? It may be easier to just cover stuff up with a Post-It so it doesn’t bug you.  We’d send you one ourselves, but we wouldn’t know how to build the Post-It request form after he leaves.

(We’ll miss you, Karl. Have fun with G and the wee one!)

Want to be your own brand? Too late. [Archive]

Ever hear of personal branding? We’ve spoken a little bit about it here, but at nowhere near the depth that it is covered in this week’s Time Magazine.

I’ve held the belief that everyone has a brand and can’t avoid sharing it with the world. Think you don’t?

Ask yourself a few of these questions:

Do you have kids?
Are you energetic?
Do you eat everything on your plate?
Did you study in school?
Do you have an iPod?
Do you dress comfortably when traveling?
Are you the life of the party?
Do you like playing videogames?
Do you have a blog?
Do you own a pet?
Did you answer any of them?

If you answered “yes” to any of the questions you’ve branded yourself. If you answered “no” to any of the questions you’ve also branded yourself. Heck… if you saw the list and thought “I don’t have time for this” or “this is stupid” or “I want to see where he’s going with this before I answer anything” then… yes… you’ve branded yourself.

Oh, and for you wiseacres that think by shutting yourself in a room and never talking to anyone you’ll avoid branding yourself… Hope that you enjoy being branded as a recluse.

You see, anything about you that you communicate to other people becomes part of your brand. Even if you don’t say a word or move a muscle you can still establish your brand solidly. As soon as you walk into a crowded room you are immediately checked for your brand by everyone that sees you. They see if you’re stylish, confident, good looking, healthy, happy, and just about anything else that you might be showing. They’re even potentially filing away bits of data about you like, “You’re that guy who wore stripes and paisleys together” or “the woman that fell into the cocktail sauce.”

Why are people looking for shorthand? Because we can’t handle the complexity presented by human beings. We need a mental shorthand to help with recall. (Suddenly all those high-school nicknames like “Shorty”, “Freckles”, and “Pig Pen” begin to make sense…) We find one or two things that are distinctive about a person and we use them as the tabs on our mental folders so we can always find who we’re looking for.

So – even before you spend a dime you probably already have a brand. It may not be good, but it is certainly there.

The idea presented by Time (that companies can help you with your personal brand) is pretty interesting to me. People often see themselves as so multi-faceted that they couldn’t possibly simplify themselves down to the one or two things that will lead them to success in life. In job interviews we often throw dozens of great things about ourselves at the interviewer – hoping that at least a couple of ‘em hit the right spot and get us hired. So we say we’re confident, we’re organized, our only flaw is that we don’t know when to call it a day, we get along well with everyone, we’re a natural leader who knows how to be a team member, we’re looking for a job that helps us grow but we have all the skills we need to do it perfectly today.

Not only do most of us not say anything that will help to create a compelling shorthand in an interviewer’s mind, we often contradict ourselves in the hopes that one of the two things we say will match with what the hiring manager is looking for.

So – the idea than an industry would spring up to help people land jobs, write personals, and basically be ourselves(only in higher concentrations) actually seems useful. It helps us carve out mental space in the minds of the people we interact with. If you carve out the right mental space with the right person you can end up with your dream job, the perfect spouse, or the best friend you’ve always wanted. Isn’t that worth a couple thousand dollar investment?

But there are downsides. Once you’ve branded yourself to get that dream job you must find ways to live within that brand. If you’ve misstated yourself at all it can come back to bite you. Did you say that you were “detail oriented” when you should have said “aware that there are details?” When your copy isn’t flawless it isn’t going to go over well with the boss.

Even if you nail your brand perfectly it may lock you into a role that doesn’t allow you to grow in ways that you want to. Branding is usually about finding the compelling differences between you and everyone else – and the desire to do a little bit of everything doesn’t help you stand out. Everyone says (or thinks) it – and most also say they’re interested in personal growth. Once you pin your brand to your chest you’re going to have to live with (and as) it for a while. Are you comfortable with that? Does your life-history tell the same story?

Remember in today’s world we now leave a trail of bits and bytes behind us and Google is there to sweep them into little organized bins. In looking for my name you’ll find hundreds of hits, including articles I’ve written, my own blog posts, memberships in online forums, and even stuff that other bloggers and thought leaders have said about me. If I were to suddenly decide that I wanted to spend the rest of my life as an accountant I might find that my online identity would prevent any reputable accounting firm from hiring me. Anyone with knowledge of computers and the Internet would know in an instant that I had no experience. (You can read numerous stories about bad stuff happening and being found online if you look for ‘em. You can’t outrun your online identity.)

Is personal branding worth it? Actually I think it is – if you aren’t doing as well in life as you think you could be. If you’re happy then why bother? Same goes for big business – if you’re happy with where you are (and where you’re going) then why would you ever invest money in changing that?

(This is actually a pretty big problem for companies that are about to encounter bad times – they don’t see that they need to change and are caught flatfooted when times change and being the best record-player manufacturer goes from being something to boast about to something worthy of shame.)

Here’s the real key, though. Investing in your brand won’t do a darn thing for you if you don’t know who you are or what you genuinely want to do with your life. If you don’t know what direction you want to go then chances are good that improving your directionless brand will improve your chances of landing a job (or mate) that you probably don’t want or can’t support for the long term.

How do you figure out who you are and where you want to go? You could hire an expert. Or if you’re saving your money you could just take a look at your own life. Just by walking around your house you can learn a lot. Are all your cosmetics lined up on the counter? Do you move your furniture when you vacuum? Do you have a piano? Do you use it? How many dirty dishes are in your sink? Do you have art on the walls? Is it original or reproduction? Each one of these questions points to something that you are or believe in. Even seeing where you put your money (electronics, politics, baby-food, your church) could help you figure out who you are.

It’s what you do with the things that matter to you that probably define you best of all. So – you’ve got time, money, and effort. Where have you been investing them? Once you figure that out then you may be in a better position to develop a brand that can support your real goals.

In closing this exceedingly long ramble, you should consider how effective companies have been in trying to rebrand themselves as something that they are not.

NWSDLA [Archive]

Why do we not like them? Because except in rare instances they’re forgettable, confusing, costly, and time intensive. …among other things, of course.

Forgettable because most acronyms (and initialisms) have no connection to the idea behind the letters.

Confusing because if someone wants to get to know the organization or product behind the letters they’ve got to learn two different names – the abbreviated one and the long, drawn-out one. Additionally, the pronunciation of an acronym or an initialism is often not intuitive.

Consider:

ICQ = “I Seek You” (instead of “Ick!”)
IEEE = “I triple E”
IALA = “Eye Allah”
LED = “Ell Eee Dee”
IUPAC = “Eye You Pack”
SQL = “Ess Cue Ell” or “Sequel”
FNMA = “Fannie Mae”
Each of these examples follows a different rule for pronunciation. And this list covers less than half of the potential pronunciation issues. It seems to me that taking the extra effort to say your name, then spell your name, then explain that the letter sounds are actually letter sounds and not full words (as in “ICQ”) is more trouble than it is worth. Which leads me to…

Costliness… Supporting two unique identities – the short and long version – takes money. It appears in the use of different names for internal and external documentation, or in different logo presentations, or in linear inches when writing job descriptions for publication in the paper, or – relating to the last issue listed – in time spent explaining what the acronym means.

Time is a significant disincentive for the use of acronyms. If the goal is to do something productive with the hours in your day and your staff is forced to expalin the acronym every time they say it to someone new… aren’t you losing a bit of money every time conversation is side-tracked? Yes, you could argue that the additional conversation is about your company so it’s “all good” but wouldn’t you rather have a conversation better targeted to what you want from the person you’re talking to? If it takes 15 seconds to clarify your name each time you say it and you say your name to ten new people a day… that’s 2.5 minutes a day or 12.5 minutes per week per staff member. Almost an hour a month of lost time multiplied across your entire sales staff.

It seems to me that it is better to have the listener ask a question about what you can do for them or the value of your offerings intead of asking the most basic question (i.e. “Umm… what’s that mean?”) Acronyms have a way of making people feel stupid – they’re the professional version of “AMonkeySaysWhat?” – forcing us to stop the speaker to clarify an issue that the speaker should’ve addressed or let the speaker go on as we focus on the fact that we have no clue what was just said. There’s an old military prank that guys pull on new recruits – commenting that the hardest part of the job is cleaning up after all of the spent B-1RD (pronounced “Bee One Arr Dee”) fuel in the hangar. It’s a rare recruit that figures it out in the first couple days.

Want a few more reasons?

How about these:

We did fine for centuries without even having a word to describe what an acronym was. It wasn’t until the 1940s (shortly after The New Deal) that the mess of long-winded government programs likely forced us to come up with a way to describe the alphabet soup. Do you really want to be associated with annonymous government programs?
Typically you can’t trademark your acronym by itself. And you can’t prevent others from using the same one that you do. There aren’t enough letters in our alphabet to allow every company and association to get their own short acronym reserved all for themselves. So…
You end up sharing your acronym with hundreds our thousands of other entities and no one can ever find you.
Think the big guys are immune? Think again. ABC – an acronym “owned” by the American Broadcasting Company – seems to have a bit of trouble keeping others off of their letters. On the first page of an ABC Google search we find:

” yet Another Bittorent Client”
Australia’s public broadcasting network
The national trade association representing merit shop contractors
The audit bureau of circulations
…and references to three different branches of the American Broadcasting Company.
If we’re generous and we allow a contextualizing term like “towing” to be added to ABC we should be able to find our local tow shop, right?

Nope.

Unless you’re fortunate enough to be in Hammond, Indiana. Those guys are easy to find. Most of the other 1.8 million “ABC Towing” hits are for other companies in other cities and states – and are entirely unrelated to the guys in Hammond.

Acronyms, plainly stated, are perhaps the fastest way to become permanently anonymous in business.

That said, there are exceptions. One quick look at FCUK and you’ll see there are ways to get attention. But (thankfully?) there can really be only one FCUK. However, I know without even looking that even this name has been copied. I’ll give ten to one odds that FUKC and FCKU are both being marketed as copycat brands… (But that is a rant for another day.)

A Few Words On Coolness [Archive]

“Give us something cool.”

This is a mantra we hear from almost all of our clients. They want cool names. They want to be hip. They want to be the “it” company – as shown by their sexy/funky/cool name.

Here’s the problem – coolness doesn’t age well.

Things that used to be cool include:

Michael Jackson
Hula Hoops
Smoking
Pet Rocks
Tickle-Me Elmo
Cabbage Patch Kids
Britney Spears
Reality TV
Fondue Parties
Black & White TV
Talkies
The Brat Pack
Plaid
Paisley
While I am not prepared to define coolness for you, I can at least inform you of one of its qualities… Coolness is fickle. As soon as enough people think that something is cool it instantly becomes uncool. Do all your friends think that owning a Chihuahua is the height of coolness? Too late! Chihuahuas are yesterday. Is everyone at your school wearing all black? Wrong! Now it’s time for pastels.

Coolness moves on.

Trying to give your company a name that defines coolness is a lot like wearing a nametag that says “Hi, I’m Tate – I was born in the 70s.” Cool names tend to date themselves.

A few naming trends that were cool but aren’t anymore:

Long Descriptive Names: “International Business Machines”
E- or I- names: “e-business”
Dotcom names: “Amazon.com”
Unpronounceable Names: “Mxlpltz”
Jarring Names: “FatBrain”
In my view, you can make just about any name cool if you have the brand strategy to make your own brand cool. Thus far Google has kept its company and name cool by staying on the edge of technology. Google itself actually sounds kind of uncool. Sort of like a kid with big eyes… but we think of it as cool because of the associations. Google (the company) works hard to keep moving forward so that the cool doesn’t get stale.

Keeping coolness around is a lot of work. Make sure that you are ready for it before you commit to the genre. When a cool name fails it often brings the company along with it.

The 400 Flavors of Eskimo Snow [Archive]

You’ve all heard about this, right? Eskimos (okay, actually the Inuit) are so intimately familiar with snow that they have up to 400 different words to describe it.

Right.

Having talked to parents of infant twins and to those that have had little tykes in the house for over ten years I think I can safely call this one a myth. They’ve seen more different kinds of poop than most Inuit see different kinds of snow in a lifetime and yet they’re able to classify it with at most a couple dozen terms – including the profane ones. (This is not, mind you, a challenge for you to list all the four letter words that you can think of.)

Dave Mendosa has a short piece about this on his website and he covers how the myth got started – when an explorer visited the area and claimed that the tribe had four names for snow.

Four?

Stephen Pinker – a prominent linguist – suggests that today the Inuit have only a dozen words for snow, and that is if you count generously. And here you can find a list of snow morphemes (note that there aren’t many more in Inuit than there are in English.)

Most on the Internet seem to conclude this is a case of gradual exaggeration – each person repeating the story adds a percentage or two as they retell it.

So why am I (as a Thingnamer) bringing up this linguistic fallacy? Because in a few ways it parallels issues we face in naming things. But I’ve only got time to address one today, so here it goes…

Let’s address the possibility that we could build 400 words meaning essentially the same thing. Oddly this doesn’t get my hackles raised. When we develop new names for products or companies we may consider thousands of potential names on our team before weeding them down to a select group to pass on to the client. In effect, before we deliver our prime candidates we live through the hell of trying to identify the same individual thing with a virtual Babel of morphemes and other lexical bits.

How do I know that there can’t be 400 terms for “snow?” Because early on in my Thingnaming life I used to deliver all of the naming candidates to the client to sift through. They’d be given hundreds or thousands of candidates to consider instead of dozens.

Know what happened? Almost nothing. With so many options to choose from my clients were unable to even begin to evaluate the terms for fit. They were overwhelmed. When trying to compare one candidate to the mass of others there was too much to evaluate. Discussion was perpetually focused on how the client could possibly know if a name were better than every other candidate – even when we tried to narrow things down to an either-or decision.

I think this parallels what would happen in real life. Imagine if you had to go through this process just to describe what was falling from the sky. Was it snow54 that was falling around you, or perhaps snow323? Does snow313’s aspect of supreme fluffiness better fit the situation than does snow299’s reference to the slowness with which it falls?

A quick side note: My personal feeling is that inventing so many words for snow is impractical if we can take existing terms (adjectives, mostly) and connect them with the core term. Consider “driven snow,” “wet snow,” and “dense snow.” If we make every single possible quality of snow into its own unique term then we lose the ability to compare the particular quality of that snow to other items without relying on metaphor.

Second side note: There are some things that have 400 different words to describe them, but they’re not used in conversation by laypeople. Consider the color green – when you look through paint chips you’ll find hundreds of different words to describe slight variations in the presentation of color. Is it “Pinesage” or “Forest Growth?” The names, however, aren’t meant to be used in every day life. They’re mostly just to give people a way to refer to the color while holding it in their hand and comparing it to another color. It’s just easier to understand than “this green” or “that green.” (Yes, I know that the greens in question are actually different greens – but I’d assume that this argument holds for snow as well – the hypothetical different words for snow are pointing out that the snow itself is not the same in each case.)

I guess that technically speaking those previous two paragraphs weren’t side notes since they were actually at the end of my meandering post. Perhaps we can come up with 399 terms that better fit their true purpose?

No, *I* Am The Greatest [Archive]

Like Beer? Looking for the best beer? Good news! There are apparently many companies making exactly the product that you’re looking for!

Here’s what they say about themselves:

  • The King of Beers
  • Lager Beer at its Best
  • The Beer so Good it’s Bad
  • The Champagne of Bottled Beers
  • It Doesn’t Get Any Better than This
  • Taste as great as it’s name
  • Probably the best beer in the world
  • The One and Only
  • Reach for Greatness
  • Spot the Difference
  • Miles from Ordinary
  • It’s a bit gorgeous
  • Spot On
  • America’s World Class Beer

Notice a trend? If you want good, great, world class, different, or beautiful beer then we’ve got you covered.

Let’s do a quick reversal on the taglines to see if any of them speak to a specialty rather than an empty boast.

  • The Pawn of Beers / The Queen of Beers
  • Lager Beer at its Worst
  • The Beer so Bad it’s Good
  • The Thunderbird of Bottled Beers
  • It Doesn’t Get Any Worse than This
  • Taste as bad as it’s name
  • Probably the Worst beer in the world
  • The Entirely Average
  • Reach for Mediocrity
  • Spot the Sameness
  • Miles from Different
  • It’s a bit ugly
  • Misses the Mark
  • America’s Unremarkable Beer

I’m not seeing anything here that would still appeal to me – meaning that the original taglines are probably viewed as empty boasts.

There are many many many more beer taglines out there – I’ve just chosen a few that focus on quality to prove a point. If you focus on quality in your tagline you’re going to have a very hard time standing out from the competition. Budweiser found a unique way to show quality by associating itself with royalty. They own “King” the way Volvo owns the idea of safe cars. People may try to copy the strategy, but they’ll inevitably get knocked back to some other message.

Here’s the list of brand names and taglines combined – How many did you get right?

  • The King of Beers – Budweiser
  • Lager Beer at its Best – Heineken
  • The Beer so Good it’s Bad – Bad Frog
  • The Champagne of Bottled Beers – Miller
  • It Doesn’t Get Any Better than This – Old Milwaukee
  • Taste as great as it’s name – Old Milwaukee
  • Probably the best beer in the world – Carlsberg
  • The One and Only – Newcastle Brown
  • Reach for Greatness – Bass
  • Spot the Difference – Sagres (Portugal)
  • Miles from Ordinary – Corona (Mexico)
  • It’s a bit gorgeous – Boddingtons
  • Spot On – Carling
  • America’s World Class Beer – Samuel Adams

I can proudly claim Bud, Miller, and almost Old Milwaukee (I thought it was Milwaukee’s Best.) Note that Bud and Miller at least tried to claim quality in a way that wasn’t ordinary – establishing rank or associating it with another product. Most of the rest make the empty and completely subjective claim of greatness without giving you any real identity to latch on to.

Today’s lesson in a nutshell: If you’re not Tony the Tiger or the the fighter Ali, then discussing the greatness of your product is likely to get you nowhere. Find a new way to show why you’re worth a try.



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