The Royal Brand Aid

April 29, 2011

The Queen, God love her and that daffodil dress, has four children, three divorced. Sure, lots of people have starter husband and wives and few bat an eye. Except, the monarchy is supposed to inspire a nation not fill its tabloids.

Of course Prince Charles got it wrong. The ever-anxious looking dad, that nobody wants as King, didn’t follow his heart. How could he? His father forced him to study subjects he didn’t love at a school where he was tormented, then serve in a military career that wasn’t for him. No wonder he couldn’t stand up at the altar and say Diana is lovely but I prefer a horse.

I hope, like all of us who attend a wedding (my invitation must have got lost in the mail)  that the newlyweds’ love lasts. It looks good: two equally educated friends who’ve been enjoying each others’ company for eight years. He’s handsome and tall and she’s gorgeous. Then there’s the PDAs (public displays of affection). There was not one balcony kiss but two. (Charles wasn’t even going to peck the people’s princess, Diana leaned over and smooched him).

Today, hope reigns and a brand is revived. No gifts please, donate to our charities. Not a big wedding, thanks. No bridal train longer than a train and yes that’s Elton John and his husband up front. And the clincher for me, the sign of a new era were the English Maple trees brought inside Westminster. We are alive and growing, said the trees.

Now, someone tell those newlyweds to do what Diana did not do that fateful night. Use your damn seat belt, please.

How to Give A Great Talk

April 28, 2011

Here are professional tips to shift your talk from ho hum to wow.

Before you speak set your stage. position the chairs so everyone can see with ease. Avoid what most speakers do which is light up their screen and speak from the shadows. Stand in the best light because you can’t shine in the dark. Do a dry run before people arrive speaking to each quadrant in the room. When you are read, have music playing as people come in. Great tunes convey welcome energy.  When it’s time, stand at the door  and greet each person as they come in. Small talk before the big talk makes everyone feel at home.  Here are the next five 5 lessons to wow your audience.

1. Affirm Before You Inform: Speaking is not about you; it’s about your audience. Before you dive into your topic and deliver value make your audience feel valued. National Speaker’s Association founder Cavett Roberts said “People won’t care about what you know unless they know you care.” Start with heart.

2. Use a Ho Hum Crasher: Engage your audience’s ATTENTION. Before you start to speak many audiences are thinking ho hum, another speaker. So wake them up: “If Princess Diana had worn a seat belt she would have been at the wedding.” This would be a killer opening for a talk on personal decisions. Pun intended, sadly.

3. Highlight the ROI: ROI is the Return on Involvement for the audience. Engage their INTEREST by tuning into their WII-FM channel – What’s In It For Me.  Briefly reveal why the topic matters to you and to them. Be explicit about what they will gain.

4. Build an Elegant Talk: Create a DESIRE in your audience to lean in and make it easy to learn. Consider using the OK structure: ONE big idea supported by three KEY concepts.  Elegant talks reach diverse learners by engaging the right side of the brain (stories, quotes or anecdotes) with the left  (theories, concepts or statistics). With stories remember: “Don’t tell me, take me”  With statistics make them sticky; for example, a billion is hard to grasp. Make it real by asking the audience to guess (without using a smart phone) how long it would take to count to a billion? (BTW it takes, counting non-stop, at one number a second, 31 years, 251 days, 7 hours, 46 minutes and 39 seconds).

Add visuals because brains are wired for pictures. In fact, Dr. Medina, who wrote Brain Rules, says visuals greatly enhance retention. So use props and simple, powerful images (not word dense PowerPoints, pleeeease). Dr. Medina also says to hold your audience’s engagement, change your delivery format every 9 minutes. For example use a video clip, move people into pairs to share ideas (pair & share)  or give a case study or break into small teams to generate solutions. You can even play music as a background for your group activities.

Like fireworks, build your speech from little wows to big, simple concepts to complex and make it fun. Even quiet enjoyment is contagious and helps to anchor learning.

5. Review & Ask For Action! Build in a review because you can’t implement what you can’t remember.  Please don’t say “Let’s review”  or ‘In summary…” because people will tune out. Instead use a quick  progressive review that moves through 1. What happened? 2. So what? 3. Now what? You can take people through these review steps by asking them to discuss their insights with a partner or in a trio. You can also ask self-reflection questions such as: “What was your key insight? What does it mean?  What can you implement in the next 24 hours or week?  Leading trainer and author Bob Pike says  90% of material is forgotten with 30 days without a review. A brain needs help getting information from short term to long term memory. One idea is to invite your audience to review the material the day after your session and one week later. (Send a summary by email, facebook or twitter to help).

Here’s a bonus tip: Five before live.

Once you have your talk, practice it out loud, five times and with five people. Ask for feedforward, ideas that would make it better next time. This will ensure you get from good to great.

PS – This was written for my friends at the Sunshine Foundation in celebration of their upcoming May Conference.

To print simply include: (c) Louise Karch, M.Ed –

Hit a Brand Bullseye with the ‘Ladies’ – Part 2

April 25, 2011

If you want your brand to succeed, take another tip and sip from the ‘Ladies who Shoot their Lunch.’ The Great Australian Shiraz Challenge winner charmed my palate and buzzed my brain. Their brand does so many things well that I am sharing their best practices so you can build a breakaway brand.

1. Understand the difference between a corporate brand and a personality brand.* Corporate brands include HP, Breyer’s Ice Cream, Ubid, and Bell/Telstra type phone companies. Personality brands include: Apple, Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream, Ebay, Virgin and Ladies who Shoot their Lunch.

Personality brands have an emotional element that makes them likable. They have a character and tone that comes through their messages. Virgin’s recent mobile campaign says “You don’t have to kiss us in the morning.” The Virgin personality is young and sexy.

‘Ladies who Shoot their Lunch’ is also a personality brand. A woman walks confidently across the front label and tells her story on the back. She even winks at you from the top of the bottle (easy to see when you open the bottle, less easy to see after the 2nd glass 😉 )

2. Plus, the Ladies do what all great brands do. They have one message; FedEx says The World On Time and Coke says Open Happiness. The Ladies’ slogan or ‘phrase that stays’ is a cheeky challenge: “Are you Game?” The message is an engaging call to action that asks buyers to give it a try. It also serves as a brand manifesto. When the team has to make a marketing decision, they choose brave.

One message: Are you Game?

Look at your brand. Is it a corporate brand or a personality brand? Do you have a message? Does it also act as a brand manifesto?

Raising a glass to your brand. L


Photographs by Stephen Zammit is coming to LCBO this fall. Lucky Canada.

PS. I am indebted to *Mark Huges author of Buzz Marketing for the concept of corporate brand vs. personality brand.

Good Friday

April 22, 2011

He’s third from the right. That’s my dad – Michel Joseph Karch.

Born on Hallowe’en and looked like Santa Claus. Happiest cooking in the kitchen, building anything and being a Wolf Cub Leader.

We said our final goodbye on Good Friday 2001, though we still talk.

Today mom and I are cooking roast chicken, scalloped potatoes, veggies, salad and making bunny cupcakes with Parker and Wilson – the grand kids he never met but would have LOVED.

His last words are his legacy ‘Take care and love everyone.”

Crying as I type, cupcakes might be salty.


It’s A New Brand World

April 20, 2011

Branding is eating our culture. Sometimes it makes me vomit.

I am in a skating rink, my church of grace, strain and sanity. Once in a while, I go from big bottom gal trying to bust a move to Buddha on blades. The physical becomes prayerful. Not today, I’ve got brand ADD. It starts with a rink named after an insurance company. Sure, it’s a good move. It is the world of wipe outs after all but does the name need to be everywhere?

Next, it’s Easter so Cadbury is here with a display, a big bunny mascot and a lovely Disney-esque young lady giving out chocolate eggs from a big basket. It’s Little Red Ridinghood meets Snow White in a short purple and white dress with long blonde hair (I’m assuming fake) who is quite buxom (I’m assuming real).

Finally, Bart and Homer Simpson appear on skates.  D’Oh! Aren’t ‘The Easter Bunny’, chocolate and boobs enough? Nope. The Simpsons have their own experience engagement area complete with BIG SIGNS! and family activities. Throw in disco balls, a DJ, on ice dance contests and a huge videotron for music videos and it becomes like ecstasy. Pleasure that pains: its dissociation from over stimulation. (Don’t worry mom, I only looked up ecstasy on wikipedia).

When brands act without purpose and fill you up using every touch point, wall space and head space available you end up feeling oddly empty.  It should be fun, and in moments it is but it’s a brand binge.

I called it first. We have a new dis-ease in our new brand world: brand bulimia.


Yep, my foot, different rink (Bryant Park, Manhattan) branded by citibank.


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Good is no longer good enough. The goal is perfection and the path that takes us there leads to excellence.
Louise B. Karch