Posts tagged “Labels

It Is What It Is

Posted on May 19, 2018


It is what it is…except when we don’t know what it is. Is a project plan a one page graphic or 1,000+ lines of linked activities? Is a fitness plan a five minute video, a meal kit, or a holistic package of things? What does a company vice president do? (Hint: it depends.) What does expensive mean? What is the definition of fair share? What does a proposal, a business case, or a deliverable actual entail? If we’re not speaking common language, it’s hard to have a productive conversation. *

Avoiding Labels

Posted on August 14, 2016


I witnessed a CEO encourage his leadership team to avoid labels. Don’t call HR. Call Carrie. Be a collection of people, not a collection of functional titles. Labels generalize. Labels categorize, often problematically. Names personalize. Names appreciate history. Names build relationships. “Just because two people may live in the same building in the same projects, may have felony charges for the same crimes, doesn’t mean they’re the same person. They may have gotten to the same existences taking two completely different roads.” –Michael Kenneth Williams on Any Given Wednesday *

Perspectives in Words

Posted on June 7, 2014


Jacob of ERE fame neatly demonstrates how (one-sided) impressions of reality can be reflected in wording choice. Consider a summary of an introvert from an extrovert’s perspective: Introverts have an inward focus and aren’t usually the life of the party. They have a strong sense of self that can make them feel highly self-conscious around other people – making walking into a crowded room a little nerve-wracking. Introverts have a hard time being goofy in front of the camera and telling jokes to more than a couple of people at a time, but they can be extremely witty. They’re less “Larry, Curly, and Moe” and more Woody Allen. And Jacob’s inverse alternative: Extroverts have an outward focus and usually don’t read a lot. They have a weak sense…

Exclusionary Marketing

Posted on November 22, 2013


As product targeting and brand messaging is developed, a basic concept is often missed. Focusing on one group means not focusing on another. When taken to an extreme, targeted promotions or messaging can overtly discourage certain groups from purchasing or participating. What starts as minor tweaks to packaging to attract men (or other gender-specific marketing) may mutate into explicit marginalization of women (and a Hall of Shame nomination from NOW). I term it exclusionary marketing, and it goes well beyond gender. Mike Jeffries of Abercrombie & Fitch practices it and gets bad press. Porsche’s Matthias Müller practices it and achieves brand of the year. Premium, aspirational, exclusive, discriminatory, etc….how the target lines are drawn and communicated can make the difference. *

Truth in Labeling

Posted on September 6, 2013


The European Commission is considering a proposal to allow a product “Made in” label to be displayed only if at least 45 per cent of the product’s “value content” comes from the country specified.  While the proposal is unlikely to pass (see Germany and Britain and good luck defining “value content” in a standard way), it’s a nice opportunity to consider problems with labeling and geographic branding. “Now that it’s commonplace for a single purse to be made in three countries, any label that names a single place is likely to be misleading—under the old system or under a new one.” –Renuka Rayasam Many luxury companies take liberties with “Made in” labels as source materials from one country are routed to another country for intermediate work and…

The Appeal of Strategy

Posted on August 24, 2013


As I was finishing graduate school, it was remarkable how many career discussions revolved around potential job titles and how many classmates yearned for a “strategy” role…not necessarily strategic in nature but strategic in title. Business Analyst or Consultant? Not interested. Strategic Business Analyst or Consultant? Now we’re talking. At times, there was more concern with the label of the role than the nature of the role. I had a bit of a flashback this week in an account meeting. On a continuum between commodity supplier and strategic partner, how are you perceived by your buyer? Strategic, definitely strategic. How much of their discretionary spend are you getting? Hmm, maybe 5-10%. Have you done joint planning to lay out their upcoming key initiatives and…