Scott Monty

 

After many faithful years of service to Late Night with David Letterman (and prior to that the Late Show with David Letterman), everyman Calvert DeForest (aka Larry "Bud" Melman) passed away this week at the age of 85. He hadn't appeared on the show for 3 years, but he is still closely associated with it.

"What does this have to do with my brand?" I hear you ask.

Everything. And let me tell you why.

When he was picked out of obscurity (DeForest was working at the Social Services office at the time), Letterman's crew had the brilliant idea of putting a normal schlub into situations in which he had no experience. They'd throw cue cards up there for him to read, but the real value for the Late Show's audience was to see how DeForest reacted. They were never disappointed.

But more than the entertainment value that he provided, DeForest represented the Letterman brand: zany, unexpected and unscripted interactions between people, held together with Letterman's own quick wit and acerbic sense of humor. People knew that with Letterman, they were getting someone irreverent - certainly much different from the "apple pie" approach of Johnny Carson.

Now think of your own audience - your customers, prospects and employees. In this digital age, they are part of your marketing team, whether you want to admit it or not. They're engaging in conversations about your brand and representing you to the outside world. Are you aware of it? Are you enlisting their help? Most importantly, have you given them anything to relate to? Who is the face of your brand?

The last point is critical, because today more than ever, relationships count. We're awash in a sea of data, constantly being barraged with messages. Who has time to read another piece of corporate collateral? If an organization can take the time to build personal relationships with its constituents and be authentic in its approach, the trust and connection will be cemented.

One way to go about this is with a CEO blog. This can be a powerful branding tool if used properly. Here's a quick list of the top 10 CEO blogs (or more properly Executive blogs, since these aren't all CEOs). But what should a CEO blog about to make the company seem more human?
  • Travel and experiences out in the field with real customers (avoiding any confidential information, of course)
  • A personal passion, whether it's sailing, a charity, or family interests
  • Examples of how customer service feedback changed a process or product at the company
  • Calling out successes of individual employees who live the brand; that is, employees who are demonstrating the values of the organization in their personal or professional lives
  • Please do not blog about new product releases - your audience can get this from your corporate Web site
These are just a handful of ways to get started. I'm open to hearing more, of course!

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