IdeaPaint and the Art of Branded Journalism

I’ve had the pleasure recently of working with a company that really gets the idea of branded journalism. IdeaPaint, based in the Boston area, is a young company that makes paint that can turn any surface into a dry-erase board. This may not sound all that impressive, but formulating the paint was so difficult, founder John Goscha went through three labs over six years before getting it right. And now thousands of companies use the stuff.

So IdeaPaint seems to feel it’s important not to be seen as, like, just a paint brand. It wants to be seen as an idea brand — a collaboration company, a company innovative people respect and admire.

One of the relatively new pieces to IdeaPaint’s branding effort is developing content that IdeaPaint users would find valuable. And a few months ago, IdeaPaint and its branding firm, Breakaway Innovation Group, got in touch with me.

The instructions were to write a short e-book about brainstorming. They wanted it to be thought-provoking and fresh — like something you’d read in a good business magazine. No one asked me to push the IdeaPaint brand or even mention it. They wanted me to do this as if it was, in fact, a magazine assignment.

By allowing me to be a journalist, I went looking for new thinking about brainstorming, and quickly found out that a lot of people don’t like the term “brainstorming” anymore. A couple of people I interviewed said they like to have a team “swarm” a problem. While writing the piece, I wondered what word to use if people don’t like “brainstorming.” The word “brainswarming” popped into my head, and I built the e-book around it.

IdeaPaint liked the word so much it adopted it and trademarked it, and now is building a bigger branding effort around it. You can see it here. IdeaPaint and Breakaway even made a video titled “Introducing the New Art of Brainswarming.”

This outcome is similar to what happened with Tibco a couple of years ago. Tibco CEO Vivek Ranadive and I co-authored a book. It was very definitely not about Tibco, but was about new thinking in the realm of technology and business and brain science. We ended up using the phrase “the two-second advantage” in the book. Tibco then adopted the phrase for branding and trademarked it.

I think companies are used to having brand decisions always drive any content the companies produce. But sometimes, by embracing a journalistic approach to content, that process can stir up ideas that can help the brand.

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