What Have You Done for Me Lately?


One image almost single-handedly saved the Bud brand back in the '80s. Miller was cleaning Bud's clock until an enterprising distributor noticed a promotion that a local retailer was running in a Midwest college town. It featured an attitude-ridden dog called Spuds Mackenzie. Thanks to this alert distributor this quirky canine quickly became the clarion call for the brand. It injected "delight" into the marketing equation.

Without creativity, without delight, without a non-stop stream of innovation, you've got an epic brand like Heaven's Gate. With it, you've got Casablanca.

So next time you're trying to save, ignite, revive or establish a successful business, instead of building a brand, build a delight machine. The brand will come out of it, and your business will be triumphant. Try anything that works. And while you're doing it, keep an eye out for your drinking generals and your far-flung beer distributors and read obscure articles and look for shimmering sentences. Don't ever let the handcuffs of "branding" get in the way of a brilliant idea. "What have you done for me lately?" translates into "What I'll do for you next" far more effectively than a million brand plans, mission statements, promises and graphics standards manuals.

The seven rules of "What have you done for me lately?" branding are:

1. Keep the good idea Geiger counter dialed up to 10, all the time. Listen for the ticks on the meter.

2. Try things. Fail better.

3. Never let some notion of mission statement or brand standards kill a good idea. Instead, make the brand fit the brilliance.

4. Have an objective, but any way that gets you there is good. Consider the Lands' End corporate motto, long before it had been acquired by anyone, that declared, "Any employee of the company is empowered to say yes to any customer -- only the CEO can say no."

5. Great ideas cannot hurt your brand, or alienate any customers you would want to have. They can only help it.

6. Your customers have a radar turned to 10 looking for delight-inducing ideas and so should you.

7. Remember what Peter Drucker said: "The only results for your company come from outside the company -- anything inside the company is a cost." The fastest and best way to build those results is to sling delight.

Start building.

Ken Krimstein is cd, partner at partners + jeary. He can be reached at

Previously by Ken Krimstein: "For Better Creative, All You Need Is Hate"