Tag Archives: branding

Top 10 Human-Centered Change & Innovation Articles of October 2022

Top 10 Human-Centered Change & Innovation Articles of October 2022Drum roll please…

At the beginning of each month, we will profile the ten articles from the previous month that generated the most traffic to Human-Centered Change & Innovation. We also publish a weekly Top 5 as part of our FREE email newsletter. Did your favorite make the cut?

But enough delay, here are October’s ten most popular innovation posts:

  1. Bridging the Gap Between Strategy and Reality — by Braden Kelley
  2. How Do You Judge Innovation: Guilty or Innocent? — by Robyn Bolton
  3. Scaling New Heights – Building Resilience — by Teresa Spangler
  4. What Great Transformational Leaders Learn from Their Failures — by Greg Satell
  5. Your Brand Isn’t the Problem — by Mike Shipulski
  6. What’s Next – Through the Looking Glass — by Braden Kelley
  7. Don’t Blame Quiet Quitting for a Broken Business Strategy — by Soren Kaplan
  8. The Ways Inflection Points Define Our Future — by Greg Satell
  9. How to Use TikTok for Marketing Your Business — by Shep Hyken
  10. Making Innovation the Way We Do Business (easy as ABC) — by Robyn Bolton

BONUS – Here are five more strong articles published in September that continue to resonate with people:

If you’re not familiar with Human-Centered Change & Innovation, we publish 4-7 new articles every week built around innovation and transformation insights from our roster of contributing authors and ad hoc submissions from community members. Get the articles right in your Facebook, Twitter or Linkedin feeds too!

Have something to contribute?

Human-Centered Change & Innovation is open to contributions from any and all innovation and transformation professionals out there (practitioners, professors, researchers, consultants, authors, etc.) who have valuable human-centered change and innovation insights to share with everyone for the greater good. If you’d like to contribute, please contact me.

P.S. Here are our Top 40 Innovation Bloggers lists from the last two years:

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The Reasons Physicians are Losing the Branding Wars

The Reasons Physicians are Losing the Branding Wars

GUEST POST from Arlen Meyers, M.D.

Maybe the last time you walked into a retail-based clinic, you did not see an MD. Maybe the same thing happened at your hospital outpatient clinic or an urgent care center. Physician “extenders” and advanced practice professionals, like primary care pharmacists, nurse practitioners and physician assistants are winning the war on branding. They and their professional associations have done a good job branding their services while complacent doctors have not. What happened? Doctors are now “providers”. The latest spin is to call yourself a surgicalist. A surgicalist is a highly trained, board-certified surgeon who provides emergency surgical care within a dedicated hospital setting – the foundation of a surgical hospitalist program. A surgicalist career path affords talented surgeons the chance to design the life they want.

Staffing shortages among healthcare providers are having numerous downstream effects on everything from patient care to reimbursement and thinning margins. But they’re also causing a shift in public perception: More people now trust pharmacists to play a larger role in their care management, according to new research from Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health in New York City and Express Scripts Pharmacy.

With more than half (51.8%) of the U.S. population experiencing at least one chronic condition, and one-quarter suffering from multiple chronic conditions, prescription medications are often the first line of defense to help patients manage these conditions, the report found.

In the period from 2015–2018, nearly one-half of the U.S. population was using at least one prescription drug, nearly one-quarter (21.4%) were using three or more, and over 10% were using five or more prescription drugs.

All of that is putting pharmacists in the spotlight – along with the rise of chronic disease, increased medication use and shifts to value-based payment models.

Doctors don’t understand that branding a service, particularly one that is becoming more and more commoditized, is not like branding a product, like toothpaste. There are four keys to branding a service:

1. Don’t Mass Market To Your Target Market Take a look at the doctor ads. They are filled with platitudes like “quality care”, “personalized service” and “caring staff”. I would sure hope so. But, marketing to the masses with platitudes is like a CPA saying “I can do your taxes”. Instead, you need to “touch” your patients with highly targeted messages.

2. Focus On Relevance Over Differentiation Most product branding is about cheaper, smarter, faster, better compared to the competition. Service branding is about how I can solve your unique problem.

3. Worry About Growing Revenue, Not Market Share. Payer mix is an obvious difference when it comes to sickcare branding compared to product branding. As we all know, doctors don’t make the same profit seeing all patients. Some, in fact, are loss leaders. Soon, all of sick care might be a loss leader.

4. Help Your People Be Your Brand. Particularly in sickcare, your people are your brand, including the doctors. You are the product, not the doctor.

When it comes to these four elements, non-physicians are doing a better job than physicians and they are building brand equity. Take a page out of the FedEx playbook, and expect to see

  • A genuine and defensible market position
  • Improved external awareness, perception, and desirability
  • The development of a collaborative internal culture
  • Alignment and integration of all messaging
  • Revenue growth

Here are 10 ways to beat Commodity Care. For doctors to brand their services and win as incumbents in the market, they need to practice Othercare .

In the face of competition, substitutes and turf wars, doctors need to do more about their sustainable competitive advantage, particularly when it comes to practicing at the top of their license, building brand equity and innovating, all things that, up to this time, they have not done because they didn’t have to.

Maybe then, they won’t call you a provider anymore, doctor.

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Don’t Forget Branding as You Look for Business Growth

Don't Forget Branding as You Look for Business Growth

People underestimate the importance of brand as they look to grow their business beyond their initial set of successful products and services. But, if you grow your business beyond your brand you’re doomed to fail.

Few of us have the luxury of being branding experts. Many of us can’t afford to engage an expensive branding agency to conduct a brand study.

Most small business owners are busy with the day-to-day operations of their business. The money they do have to spend on sales and marketing, they tend to invest in demand generation. This is a very logical choice as every business must maximize its revenue and minimize expenses to keep the lights on. But, if your business has been successful and has grown, you may find yourself in a slightly different situation.

Many companies that succeed and grow reach a point where that growth begins to taper off. It is often at this point where entrepreneurs begin to think about adding new products or services in new areas beyond their initial focus. If you choose to ignore the role of your brand at this point, you do so at your own peril.

A brand is more than the name of your business, your products, or your logo. If you have done a good job running your business, delivering your products and services, and the experiences around them, then your brand will stand for something – and might be worth something (brand equity). But what your brand stands for, your brand identity, is something that ultimately you do not control.

Yes, you can invest in brand positioning to shape your brand identity, but ultimately your customers (and non-customers) determine what your brand stands for. This fact is important as you look to expand your business into new areas you’re not currently in, to sell new products and services you don’t currently sell. The brand you have built up to this point will either be an asset or a liability as you look to grow into these new areas.

Your business exists because customers give it permission to exist. It can only grow into areas that prospective customers give it permission to grow into. If Taco Bell decides to enter the healthcare business, would you find them credible? Would you trust them to diagnose and treat you?

There must be an overlap between the directions you want to grow your business and the directions that prospective customers trust you to grow your business. If your new products and services don’t lie within the mental circle of trust that exists in the collective minds of your prospective customers, you will struggle.

Notice the focus on ‘prospective customers’ as I speak about your growth areas. This is because as you grow into new areas, your circle of trust may intersect with new people who are aware of your brand that are not currently your customers. Yes, your brand means something, even to those people who are NOT your customers.

You must mind your brand positioning and brand permissions not just with customers for your current products and services, but also with the most likely customers of the new products and services you’re hoping will provide the future growth of your business.

So, how do you find out what your brand stands for and what areas you can credibly extend into?

Unfortunately, there is no way to find this out without making an investment into interviewing people. Here are some options:

  1. Pay a branding or market research agency to do this for you
  2. Pay someone who works at one of these agencies to conduct these interviews for you as a side hustle through a gig worker exchange like fiverr
  3. Create a short & sharp list of 2-3 questions to ask a handful of customers that quickly get to the heart of what your brand stands for and whether they view you as credible in the new area you’re considering
  4. Use this same list of questions to quickly ask customers of businesses you view as potential competitors in the growth areas you’re looking to enter
  5. Pay some of your customers, that you have a good relationship with and will give you the time and honest feedback, to spend more time understanding why they do business with you now and what other kinds of products & services they would trust you to provide

Whether you lack money or courage, there are options above to overcome either limitation. If you lack both, then see my previous article on what I’ve learned from becoming an accidental entrepreneur.

For the rest of you, I hope that you will heed the warnings of this article, find the suggestions useful, incorporate them as you consider potential areas to grow your business into, and select those products and services to invest in where you have both credibility and ability to execute with excellence.

Keep innovating!

This article originally appeared on Entrepreneur.com

Image credit: Pixabay


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Where Does Value Come From?

Stikkee 50 Dollar T-shirt

Where does value come from?

What makes people willing to pay $50 for a t-shirt that’s just like the one that ten other people are wearing in the club?

What makes people pay a premium for Apple products with features introduced by other companies months or years before?

If you are truly trying to be innovative, instead of creative or inventive, you MUST understand how your prospective customers assign value for the new solution you are about to introduce. This may require lots of customer interviews, ethnography, forced choices, and other upfront research, but it’s worth it, because if you don’t build your potential innovation on a new, unique insight then it has no chance of succeeding in the marketplace. And as I’ve said before, to achieve innovation you have to focus not just on creating value in the product or service itself, but all three sources of value:

  • Value Creation
  • Value Translation
  • Value Access

So, let’s get back to the $50 t-shirt…

Here in Seattle we are proud of Macklemore and Ryan Lewis, who became a chart topping rap music music act by choosing not to follow the traditional way of making it in the music business so they could not only maintain their creative freedom, but also to make more money. Their mega-hit “Thrift Shop” pokes fun at fashionistas and has helped to make thrift shopping cool instead of embarrassing. Thank you to their combination of skills, they’ve been able to do a lot of the hard work themselves to promote their music, including making this video:

By remaining independent, Macklemore and Ryan Lewis are free to collaborate with whomever they want, when they want, and with sponsors who add value in specific ways consistent with the current project they are working on, instead of a record company extracting a rent from all the artist’s activities (whether they are adding value or not). Here is one such project they undertook with another local artist, Fences, and sponsorship from a company headquartered here locally – T-Mobile USA. It’s a great song and a pretty cool video if you haven’t heard or seen it before:

I for one am grateful that Macklemore and Ryan Lewis didn’t sign a record deal, and record executives have candidly admitted that they would have totally ruined the act by forcing them to change to be more “marketable.” The success of Macklemore and Ryan Lewis (and others) serve to highlight the disruption in the music industry value chain that continues to occur, creating discontinuities that artists like Macklemore and Ryan Lewis can take advantage of. This is of course as long as they have the digital and social skills to get the word out and help their music spread.

Is there disruption happening in your industry’s value chain?

How can you take advantage of the discontinuities?

Please note the following licensing terms for Stikkee Situations cartoons:

1. BLOGS – Link back to https://bradenkelley.com/category/stikkees/ and you can embed them for free
2. PRESENTATIONS, please send $25 to me on PayPal by clicking the button 3. NEWSLETTERS & WEB SITES, please send me $50 on PayPal by clicking the button
License for presentations - $25
License for newsletters and web sites - $50

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Coke Combining Creativity with Marketing and Branding

Coca Cola Vietnam Thinking Beyond Traditional Product Lifecycle

I came across this great video from Coca Cola Vietnam that is an example of how creative minds and the concept of Value Access can sometimes unlock more value from your existing products and possibly even create new products as a result.

The concept of the video starts with a simple question:

What if a Coca Cola bottle was never thrown away?

From there it goes on to show lots of different potential uses for a Coca Cola bottle, and possibly even new products that Coca Cola could sell.

I love this.

And hopefully it will inspire you to ask, what simple question could we ask that would unlock new sources of value from our existing products or services for customers?


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What is the Role of Personal Branding in Achieving Innovation Success?

What is the Role of Personal Branding in Achieving Innovation Success?I’ve been thinking a lot lately about personal branding, in part because I’m about to begin a new commissioned white paper and so I’ve been re-visiting my popular white paper for Innocentive – Harnessing the Global Talent Pool to Accelerate Innovation, and what I wrote about personal branding there:

“… the world continues to move away from being a place where employees expect to have jobs for life, and fight against any change to this paradigm, to a world where portfolios, personal branding, and project-based work will become more common in an increasing number of industries. The evolving world of work is becoming a world in which individuals will need to be really good at collaborating and playing well with others, while also honing their skills at standing out from the crowd. At the same time, the external perception of your network value will expand from a focus on internal connections to also include the talented minds you might know outside the organization that can be brought in on different projects or challenges.”

So, let’s dig in…

The power of the individual versus the power of the collective. This is a tension that has been around longer than the practice of human resources and talent management as an occupation. While the organization is concerned with achieving success for the collective, too often we forget that the collective is made up of a collection of unique individuals, and that each of these individuals have a collection of unique skills, talents, and abilities that may or not directly fulfill the needs of their role and the organization’s goals and brand promise:

“To build a brand, you must start a conversation with your customers. Your customers have to know that you stand for something and that they can count on you to deliver upon your brand promise.” (April 20, 2012)

While the role of the individual in helping to fulfill the organization’s brand promise is often not considered, it should be, at the same time that the organization considers whether its chosen individuals adequately fill the defined job requirements that the organization believes are necessary to fulfill the collective’s mission to achieve revenue and profits for its shareholders, value for its clients and donors, or benefits for its constituents (depending on whether you’re talking about a for-profit, non-profit or governmental organization).

If we look at each role in an organization as an attempt by management and human resources to find a perfect match for the job requirements that live within a certain circle, the fact is that for every role, the circle of the individual’s skills, talents, and abilities will never perfectly overlay the circle of the job requirements, it will always look like a Venn Diagram with a good candidate possessing a large amount of overlap, but with always some of their skills, abilities, and talents lying outside of their job requirements’ circle.

But most organizations (referred to as Typical Organizations in the graphic below) fail to harness the skills, abilities and talents of the individuals they have in their organization to achieve greater performance as a collective. In my mind this is painful, wasted human capital – painful for the organization (lost potential revenue and profitability) and painful for the individual (boredom, stress, and disappointment).

Wasted Talent and Human Capital

But, a handful of more progressive, innovative organizations are trying to do better to harness the passions AND the skills, abilities, and talents of their individuals to better achieve the collective’s ability to generate revenue and profits (or other appropriate benefits) by engaging their employees in the innovation efforts of the organization, and allowing their employees to take some of their skills, abilities and talents and apply them to help fulfill other job descriptions. This looks something more like this:

Building an Innovative Organization

But in the most progressive organizations, they not only provide a way to better harness a more complete set of their employees’ skills, abilities and talents to more than one job description, but they also find a way to harness more of the skills, abilities, and talents that employees are currently realizing outside the organization in their hobbies, volunteer work, or other places.

And the successful organizations of the future will not stop there. They will also harness the connections their employees have outside the organization to increase the innovation capacity of the organization, and better engage not only partners in helping to fulfill the needs of different job descriptions, but they will also even engage their customers in achieving the work of the organization.

Where customer or partner skills, abilities and talents intersect with the job requirements, work can get done, and where customer or partner skills, abilities or talents intersect with employee skills, abilities or talents intersect, communities and connections have the chance to form and be nurtured. This is what organizations of the future will look like:

Organization of the Future

In this scenario, where innovative organizations begin to move beyond better harnessing the internal innovation capacity of their employees, to also harnessing the external capacity to work (and to innovate) of individuals outside of the organization (and to expand the scope of the collective), and to attract partners and customers to participate, organizations that allow and even encourage employees to develop a personal brand and greater external connections, will claim an outsized share of the potential benefits to both the mission of the organization and to its innovation efforts.

If your employees lack the external exposure, the external connections, and the external personal brand equity and awareness, how much harder will it be for your organization to:

  1. Attract the best partners to your innovation efforts
  2. Recruit the best customers to co-create with you
  3. Build a strong pipeline of potential future internal talent

Through this lens you can see that in the future, innovation success will be determined not just by how strong the brand of your organization is (or the collective), but also will be shaped by the strength of the personal brands of the collective’s component individuals.

Does your organization recognize the value of your personal brand to the innovation success of the collective, and foster it, or attempt to prevent you from growing your personal brand equity?

What is your personal brand, how strong is it, and how are you going to leverage this to power innovation in your organization?

Keep innovating!


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Innovation Quotes of the Day – April 20, 2012


“The intellect has little to do on the road to discovery. There comes a leap in consciousness, call it intuition or what you will, and the solution comes to you, and you don’t know how or why.”

– Albert Einstein


“To build a brand, you must start a conversation with your customers. Your customers have to know that you stand for something and that they can count on you to deliver upon your brand promise.”

– Braden Kelley


“Today you can buy knowledge by the pound – from consultants hawking best practice, from the staff you’ve just hired from your competitor, and from all those companies that hope you will outsource everything. Yet in the age of revolution it is not knowledge that produces new wealth, but insight – insight into opportunities for discontinuous innovation. Discovery is the journey; insight is the destination. You must become your own seer.”

– Gary Hamel


What are some of your favorite innovation quotes?

Add one or more to the comments, listing the quote and who said it, and I’ll share the best of the submissions as future innovation quotes of the day!

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World’s Worst Logo?

World's Worst Logo? -  Definitely Needs Updating

Every time I see this logo I cringe.

If there is one logo in the world that is definitely in desperate need of updating, it is the logo of Sherwin Williams.

My stomach turns at the site of the earth dripping with paint and the slogan “Cover the Earth” only makes it worse.

Is there anyone out there that would actually like to see the earth covered in paint?

Especially paint that looks like blood?

Sherwin Williams, I implore you, please update your logo as soon as possible to reflect the changing world we live in, where people are concerned about toxicity and where sustainability and being green are increasingly important.

If you could do it before Earth Day on April 22, 2012 that would be even better.

You may not realize the negative logo your logo is having on your business because your stock price is moving up and to the right, but imagine how much better it might be doing if you updated your image to reflect your surroundings?

Come on Sherwin Williams, you can do it!

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