Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Creativity Tips: Branding Lessons from K-State

On Monday, my daughter Mary and I attended Junior Day at Kansas State University. In more than 30 years* of communications, I've never seen a better spokesperson for an organization than Dr. Pat Bosco, K-State's vice president of student life and dean of students.

Here are a few quick lessons learned that apply to any brand:
  1. Be consistent. Dr. Bosco used "my" every time he referred to the student body. "My freshmen ..." "My students ..." "My kids ..." This personal approach is a direct reflection of the K-State brand and attitude. It's also a reminder of how much every word matters.

  2. Tell a great story. Sure, you can walk the talk. But can you drive the jive? Dr. Bosco drives a purple Jeep. I know, because he told us a great story: When he's backing that purple Jeep out of his garage, he continually hits the Jeep roof on the garage door. Why? He's so eager to get to campus, he can't wait until the door is all the way up. He used this to illustrate the importance of doing something you love. Forget branding -- there's a career lesson we can all take to heart.

  3. Invite feedback. After the high school juniors left the auditorium, Dr. Bosco talked briefly with the parents -- explaining that his presentation to the juniors was new and asking us for feedback. He wanted to make sure it hit home. It's another reflection of the K-State brand: Learning is essential. Don't be content with good. Go for great. What can we do bettter?
Since my daughter Kate goes to K-State, I can also tell you that Dr. Bosco gives his home phone number to the parents of incoming students during Freshmen Orientation. He doesn't want us to use it. He just wants us to have it, because emergencies happen. We might need it. We might need him. And he's there for us, just as he's there for the students.

Would you give your home phone number to a customer? Just in case they might need it?

Disclaimers: I don't bleed purple. I didn't go to K-State. I'm a proud MU grad and spent eight fun years in University Communications at UMKC. Nonetheless, I'm glad we've become a Wildcat family.

*Good grief. I'm old.

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