“Some day this war’s gonna end”

This entry is part 1 of 27 in the series Colosseum: A Pop-Up Email List Exploring Brand Colosseums

There are whole 3-month periods where I think about some part of Apocalypse Now (Redux or Final Cut, please) every single day. This scene for example… Duval doesn’t flinch when a mortar round explodes 20 feet from him, but the look on his face when he considers the war ending? DAMN. I think he portrays a man staring into the maw of his life’s decline into meaninglessness, and it’s one of the great moments in cinema. What if a call to arms lies at the center of a brand colosseum? A mission to change the world? What if we succeed? …

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Death, Taxes, And Behavioral Economics

This entry is part 1 of 27 in the series Colosseum: A Pop-Up Email List Exploring Brand Colosseums

Basing your business on a platform is a calculated risk (this 7m video explains why: https://vimeo.com/634811741/909a519f49). I’m normally quite bullish on the idea of having some sort of powerful idea at the center of your brand colosseum. But what if the idea you place at the center of your brand colosseum — at the center of your business — starts showing up in headlines, looking considerably worse for wear? Like this: Just as we can build a business on a platform we don’t own and experience both a tailwind and head risk as a result, we can do so with …

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Where does the center of the colosseum come from?

This entry is part 2 of 27 in the series Colosseum: A Pop-Up Email List Exploring Brand Colosseums

I’ve described some brand colosseum examples. My list is necessarily biased because I’ll only comment on businesses I’ve been following for a while. This question emerges: where does that central organizing idea come from? When I’ve seen someone promote an idea to the center of their brand colosseum, I’ve seen it come from one of the following sources: The prevailing best practice fails their clients and they want something better for them. They’re willing to take a stab at importing+localizing, adapting, or inventing something better. They’ve seen a few superstar performer businesses benefit from an idea but they’d like more …

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Simon Wardley’s brand colosseum

This entry is part 3 of 27 in the series Colosseum: A Pop-Up Email List Exploring Brand Colosseums

A brand colosseum offers a better method for doing something important and sells support for those seeking to use that method. Simon Wardley is an inspiration, and has built a brand colosseum that I find fascinating and unique because of its distributed ownership. At the center of Simon’s brand colosseum is a value chain mapping method. The idea is that this method will bring clarity to strategy decisions, partially through the resulting value chain map and partially through the discussion the mapping process forces. Simon “owns” the eponymous Wardley Mapping idea, not because he insists upon or even wants legal …

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What can you buy into?

This entry is part 4 of 27 in the series Colosseum: A Pop-Up Email List Exploring Brand Colosseums

Here’s my tentative list of the kind of things you can buy into: Philosophy Culture POV Ideals Identity Shared aspiration Distinctive method I worry the list is overly granular, but that very granularity does get us thinking in specifics, which is valuable. If your business offers people something to buy into, does it matter if that something-to-buy-into is an identity or a culture or a shared aspiration? I’m not sure it does, but if you were trying to get more clear about what idea you’d like others to buy into, then having a really granular list of lots of different, …

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Buying vs. buying into

This entry is part 5 of 27 in the series Colosseum: A Pop-Up Email List Exploring Brand Colosseums

There are things I buy, and there are things I buy into. Many things can be bought for some price. Our houses are full of them. Buy-in is different. I buy into things that cannot be bought for any amount of money, or have no price tag in the first place. I am bought into the idea that I can be successfully self-employed for the rest of my life. That thing — again, an idea — is not for sale anywhere at any price. You are almost certainly bought into ideas too. And methods. And points of view. And aspirations. …

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Buy-in is free, but it might not be cheap

This entry is part 6 of 27 in the series Colosseum: A Pop-Up Email List Exploring Brand Colosseums

These things we can buy into — ideas, philosophies, methodologies, etc — don’t cost us any money, but they might cost a lot in other terms. The first cost is the work of buying in. This can range from very little to a lot. But it’s a non-monetary cost. The work-cost of buy-in might be roughly quantifiable and it might involve second order monetary costs (ex: a real financial opportunity cost, for example), but no money actually changes hands when you buy into the thing a person or company is inviting you to buy into. Rather, the work of buy-in …

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The tools of progress

This entry is part 7 of 27 in the series Colosseum: A Pop-Up Email List Exploring Brand Colosseums

The extreme example of buy-in being free but not cheap is a gold rush. In the year 1849 it’s free to buy into the idea that California contains more easily-mineable gold than “all the people in California could take out in fifty years.” Around that time, a 30-year old named Samuel Brannan made a lot of money selling supplies to many who had bought into this idea. His store made enormous profits by selling as much as $5,000 (about $120,000 in 2005 dollars) in goods per day to miners. Source: This delightful PBS story about Samuel Brannan. It’s easy to …

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Sharing with, and efficiency

This entry is part 8 of 27 in the series Colosseum: A Pop-Up Email List Exploring Brand Colosseums

There’s been some interesting discussion on the pop-up forum for this pop-up email list, especially this one from @KiraHiggs: Reflecting on the notion of buying in, it strikes me that it’s more of a sharing with than a buying in. Buying in connotes an offer someone puts forward that I either accept or reject. Whereas what I think you’re noodling here with is resonance, alignment, affinity. Source: https://indieexperts.freeflarum.com/d/4-buy-in/8 I agree. Ultimately it’s a participatory with. For me, it’s an offer that you create when you’re making a decision about the “where are we going” and “why are we going there” …

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Efficient marketing

This entry is part 9 of 27 in the series Colosseum: A Pop-Up Email List Exploring Brand Colosseums

If you thought about marketing exclusively from the perspective of efficiency, here’s what you’d do: 1: You’d try to find the cheapest way possible to find prospects who are almost ready to buy. 2: You’d get an offer that matches their perceived needs in front of them and use the cheapest possible methods to increase this person’s desire or sense of urgency for your offering. 3: You’d try to reduce or eliminate the need for expensive complements to the sale (expensive skilled salespeople, a costly evaluation process, pre-sale tech support, etc.) This will have implications for both the marketing and …

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