Jack Cuffari, Jack Cuffari Consulting and Brand Smacks Blog

I know – a catchy title for a blog, eh? It’s actually the title of a treatise by Erasmus of Rotterdam, and no, he wasn’t the Wharton grad behind the recent boom in Netherlands-based financing. Sounds like it can’t possibly have anything to do with business, after all business doesn’t appreciate folly, which by definition is:

1 : lack of good sense or normal prudence and foresight
2 a : criminally or tragically foolish actions or conduct b obsolete : evil, wickedness; especially : lewd behavior
3 : a foolish act or idea
4 : an excessively costly or unprofitable undertaking

From the Middle English folie, from Anglo-French, from fol fool.

If I was indeed praising folly, definitions 1, 3 and 4 would be red flags for those readers who come to this esteemed blog seeking tips that will ultimately make them more successful business people. Right? Isn’t that your goal, at least from 9 to 5 or whatever workaday parameters your particular career may dictate? Because if it isn’t business information-driven, it’s entertainment or some esoteric thing, and dude, there are only so many hours in a day.

Well, as Einstein said, you have all the time that there is. But then again, he never read Drucker. And what I intend to discuss, or at least rant about, is not truly folly. It may very well be treated as folly by many in the business and attendant financial communities, but it’s not truly folly. Its value may often be neglected by the majority of marketers (although never the big dogs), but it is not actually folly per se.

It is the acknowledgement that between the light-speed rapidity of technological advancement and the analytical, logic-driven business school culture of the Information Age, an unhealthy and profoundly limiting paradigm has now become dangerously obsolete, but is still being worshipped: I call it the Left Brain Only model.

In the Left Brain Only business world, all that matters are analytics, number crunching, logic systems and hard data.


Continue Reading

It’s the last quarter of the year, and if you haven’t done your planning for 2010, I’ve got two things to say to you: 1) you’re late (you undoubtedly know that), and 2) you’re not alone.

But whether you’re in the middle of developing your 2010 plans, directing planning input from multiple sources, or reviewing plans for clarity and consistency, this blog’s for you.

Working with many different clients over the years, I have worked with many who have been given responsibility for planning who are not themselves trained strategic planners. This means that many of them have a limited understanding of the basics of strategic planning. Oh, they know their stuff and are often brilliant marketers, but some come from the technical side, some come from sales, some from communications – you get the picture. I will see the words “Objective”, “Goal”, “Strategy”, and “Tactic” used interchangeably. A stated “Mission” will have the hallmarks of “Vision”; a “Threat” is labeled a “Weakness”, etc. This makes me crazy, as these are all very different things, and they have very different meanings and functions.

In response I have prepared a primer of sorts that covers the basics of strategic planning terms and explanations for the many who are not trained strategic planners. I share its essence here, knowing that some of you will find this a tad didactic and below your level of operation. I would suggest that you can view this as a refresher. Overall I have the belief and fervent hope that others will certainly benefit from it.


Continue Reading

It’s a dilemma: the economy is in the toilet, panic sets in, and long–range planning gives way to short-term thinking. It’s completely rational and logical, of course, and that just makes it worse. Now managers who should really know better are merely looking to the end of the quarter – or next quarter at best – and holding their breath instead of keeping their eyes on the big picture. Truth is no one upstairs wants them to look at the big picture right now – they just want company in their crowded Chicken Little suites.

Despite the vagaries of economic conditions new brands will always require sturdy foundations of rigorous, disciplined construction, and that takes time and money. To develop and launch a healthy, connective and authentic brand considerable groundwork must be done in advance; what any branding expert worth their salt considers due diligence. I call it Forebranding™ – all the work that is done before that brand’s identity is manifested in visual and verbal identity.

A brand can be dumped into the marketplace with a casually developed visual and verbal identity wrapped around it. But if that identity isn’t based upon a relevant, authentic personality and truly reflective of the corporate culture behind it, consumers will ultimately smell a phony and not connect or remain connected.

WHY FOCUS ON CULTURE?


Continue Reading