Friday, November 20, 2009

Learn business on-line

A few weeks ago I’ve created PICANT Knowledge – a blog where I post videos with lectures and speeches that I consider useful for the people who want to learn about business in general and marketing and management in particular.

There are also a few videos in Romanian.
I hope you enjoy the videos I’ve selected.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Ultimate co-branding in personal brands

We all heard of co-branding when we speak of commercial brands (products, services and companies). Co-branding means that two brands of similar power join forces in delivering more value to their customers.

When it comes to personal brands, co-branding is much more often used. We go to a party with someone, we spend time with friends, we team up with colleagues for projects at work or we buy presents in a group for a common friend.

The ultimate co-branding in personal brands is marriage when two brands join forces for a lifetime.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

About people

Man is the only creature on Earth smart enough to build the Empire State Building and dumb enough to jump of it.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Romania’s Crown of Steel

After the Independence War in 1877 – 1878 against the Ottoman Empire, in 1881 Romania became a kingdom and Carol I was crowned King Of Romania.

The Story says that the leaders of the political parties and other Romanian leaders of the time came to Carol I (who was of German origin) with a golden crown with precious stones. They offered him the crown saying that he should have this great symbol (the crown) of his power as the king of an independent country.

At that moment Carol I got really mad and said that the country needs money to recover from the war and continue its development as a modern European country. He didn’t accept the golden crown, told the political leaders to melt it, sell the gold and use the money for the country’s development.

Carol I told the political leaders that if they want to offer him a crown they should take one of the cannons captured during the war, melt it and make a crown out of it.

And so they did. Carol I, the first King of Romania as an independent country was crowned with a steel crown. And all of Romania’s kings that followed Carol I were crowned with the same steel crown.

This Steel Crown is exhibited at the Romanian National History Museum in Bucharest.

I believe that all political people, business people and social and religious leaders should learn from King Carol I.

Maybe this would be a solution to the economic difficulties…

Why it is so difficult to build a personal brand and still be authentic ?

According to Landor Lexicon a "Brand is The sum of all the characteristics, tangible and intangible, that make the offer unique".

This definition is accurate for brands of products, services or companies and for personal brands.

The main difference between a commercial brand (product, service or company) and a personal brand is that a personal brand is a human brand. A human is what he or she is and can’t be transformed in what the target group wants and expects and still be authentic.

If your target group for a cheap family car (product brand) wants a big trunk, a car manufacturer can produce that.

But if your target group for a personal brand wants something that the man or woman does not have it’s impossible to deliver it and still be authentic.

So for personal brands it is much more difficult to deliver something that the man or women does not have and still be authentic.

It’s not very difficult to know what your target group wants and expects from you as a brand.

It’s hard to deliver what they want when you don’t have that… so it means that your brand positioning is not the correct one.

In order to build a strong an authentic personal brand it’s very important to know yourself in depth, to understand who you are and what makes you special and desirable.

Many think that building a personal brand is about being known and having a nice blog and communicate on twitter about everything you do, being on Linked in and having as many connections as possible. Well that’s just the top of the iceberg of a personal brand. It’s similar to advertising and PR for a commercial brand.

Most important in a personal brand (and in a commercial brand) is the brand essence.

What is you personal brand’s brand essence?

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Brand Evolution and the Progress Mark

In The evolution of brands there are some stages of development.

The first stage is the Trademark. It’s the first stage of development for an incipient brand, which is at the level of legally protecting its elements of intellectual property. This stage is inferior comparing to the usual brand, accepting that a brand is more than a Trademark.

The second stage is the “usual brand” – a brand that has reached a certain development. These brands are known by their target and are associated with various ideas or characteristics. Most times they are known for something good, for something different or something good and different.

The third stage of development is the Trustmark – a brand that succeeded in earning the trust of its customers. A trustmark developed further than a “usual brand” because it is not just known for something good and different, but it gained the trust of a large part of its target group. A trust mark benefits of the trust of its consumers.

The fourth stage of development is the LoveMark – a brand that is loved by its customers, that benefits of loyalty beyond reason. The lovemarks are the brands that gained not only the trust of their target group, but also have strong emotional links with the individuals in their target group.

I believe that another brand concept exists: The Progress Mark. A progress mark can be also a trust mark or a love mark. It is not another stage of brand development, but is a particular case for brands that are successful.

A progressmark is a brand that pursues the personal and / or professional development of its customers. A progress mark has the trust of the public and has created some emotional links with its target group.

A progressmark is something that people use when they want to be better professionally or personally.

A very good example of a progressmark is a good university. Somebody buys the university’s services for professional development (the actual knowledge received) and personal development (being a part of an elite group).
The customer of an university wants to progress in his or her career and life, and knows that that university will help him or her make that progress.

Another example of a progressmark is that of a publishing house. The customers of a publishing house buy the books or magazines for their intellectual development (professional or cultural).
Universities, training companies, publishing houses are obvious examples for a progress mark, but progress marks are not only about education and culture.

For example a tool manufacturer can develop a new tool that will help its customers work better and faster. For sure this is a progressmark because the customer made a considerable progress in being more efficient in his or her work.

Even a store can be a progress mark if it helps people find faster what they are looking for, or having trained personnel that helps people making the best decision and not spending money on something that they don’t need.

I gave some examples of categories of products or services where progressmarks can develop, but these are not the only categories and not all members in these categories can become ProgressMarks.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

The long way from communism to democracy

In December 1989 in Romania took place a revolution. Its goal was to change the communist regime. Some historians say that the revolution was prepared by foreign secret services. That’s probably right, but one certain thing is that people died in that revolution - The revolution for democracy.

Now, 20 years later, I see that we still have a long way to democracy. I don’t mean democracy as political democracy. We have that. We vote, there have been changes of power between different parties; we have free speech, free press, private property, private businesses etc.

I mean that we still have a long way to go in really empowering the people in daily life. In real life we Romanians don’t have the power in small matters like the relationship with banks, hypermarkets, real estate developers, state authorities or any other kind of organization that we pay.

For example real estate prices are similar with other countries in the EU. Last year a one-bedroom apartment (one bedroom and a living room) with a surface of 70 sqm was priced at 90.000 euros (about 130.000 USD). Unfortunately in Romania the minimum wage is about 150 euros (200 USD). In Bucharest the capital city of Romania a young person (up to 35 YO) can earn about 700 euros per month (I’m talking about the average person with high education). So a family of 2 average young people can’t afford more than the one-bedroom apartment and that by taking a loan for 25 years.

Also there is no power to the people in the relationship with banks because we have huge loan costs. There are situations that banks have doubled the monthly pay of a loan.

Also we have huge prices for food. The tomatoes are 1.5 euros / kilo, a lot more than in other EU countries.

I personally had an awful experience with one of my company’s suppliers that did not respect the contract and I could do nothing because I needed them and there were no other suppliers in that field.

We are not yet used to democracy, to the power of saying “NO”, to the right of not being bullied around by state authorities or by imbecile companies.

20 years have passed from the 1989 revolution. How many years do we still need to have true democracy in our day to day life?

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

I’ve lost 3 businesses in 5 years

I have 6 and half years of entrepreneurship.

At the age of 20 while in university along with other colleagues I’ve started an NGO of students called DaAfaceri (YesBusiness). Its goal is to support young people to start their own businesses. It was not much, but we have contributed to some startups and other students that took contact with the NGO got better jobs that they would have got without the NGO.

I left this NGO after almost two years of being president so that other students will get the chance to take it further. In November this year the NGO will be 7 years old.

After I left DaAfaceri (the NGO) I’ve started a small business along with another member of this organization. We were at the age of 22 and we said: “After what we did with the NGO we can’t fail”. Well it took us 5 months to fail. We lost all of our money, we had no investors and our project was a disaster.

It took me 6 months to recover from that failure.

In the summer of 2005 we (the two associates in the company) finished the university and decided to separate.

In September 2005 I have decided to try again on my own. I had no money (in fact I had about 350 USD), but I said that if I do not try again, I’d be sorry.

So I din try again this time with a less ambitious project. And with a lot of hard work, a lot of enthusiasm and not that much business knowledge I was successful … at least for about 16 months.

The business made little money, the market was very small, I wanted it to grow, but soon I realized that there was no place to grow unless I made a large investment. I didn’t have the money to invest; there were no investors willing to invest (in fact in Romania there are very few investors that are venture capitalists and invest in startups).

So in march 2007 I said that my small, very small business is almost broke. So I decided to start a new business along with a friend, a business on training for companies – marketing and management trainings for companies. That business is called PICANT.

PICANT started in July 2007 and we were more successful than we expected. It is true that we didn’t expect too much. 2008 started a little slow and business wasn’t very good, but since May 2008 till December 2008 the business was booming. We worked 6 days a week at least 10 hours a day.

The money was ok, we’ve built a nice brand and 95% percent of our customers were very happy with our trainings.

Unfortunately in 2009 the Economic Crisis touched Romania and the companies cut off their training and marketing budgets. So we who sold marketing trainings lost another business.

The great thing is that we are only 27 years old. (My partner turned 27 last week. I still am 26 for the next 3 months).

So after almost seven years of entrepreneurship, at the age of 27, maybe it is time to do some business…

Elections for the European Parliament

On 7th of June in all the 27 EU countries will be held elections for the European Parliament.

The European Parliament is a unique structure, being the EU’s Legislative. The European Parliament in theory represents the 490 million citizens of the EU.

But it is expected that only about 30% of the voting population to take part in these elections.

This might mean that Europeans are not that much interested in the EU… What I believe it’s very encouraging is the fact that a lot of young citizens will vote. At least this time the young ones will chose the future and not the ones over 70.

Enjoy the EU Anthem

Friday, May 22, 2009

Peace and Prosperity

Have you noticed that most of the fairy tales with young (male) heroes that fight with some kind of evil creature or person end with the young hero becoming king? And all of these fairy tails end with the phrase “And the new king brought peace and prosperity”?

Well, it seams that today’s leaders of the world ignored all of these fairy tales, because in the last hundred years no one understood that war and military spending will not bring prosperity to the people.

All of the wars were followed by recessions and hard times for the simple citizens.

I heard an economist’s (I can’t remember the name) speech on saying that now we have the same situation as the one after a war, but without a war. Well… some of the world’s strongest economies are at war (USA and UK) for at least 8 years.

The USA and other countries spent huge amounts of money on the military budget in the last 8 years. Why this taxpayer’s money wasn’t spent on investments that all the taxpayers would benefit?

We all need leaders that bring peace and prosperity!

Enjoy this Manowar song on war heroes and remember that these wars and war heroes belong in fairy tales.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Great example for cultural marketing

Watch the hole video.

I would go to Moscow to see such a show

Friday, May 8, 2009

Bags packed, car ready … going on a trip

I’m leaving tomorrow for about one week to visit some friends in the western part of Romania (Timisoara and Oradea). I’ll be driving for 1500 km in 6 days and there are no motorways on this route.

Afterwards I will speak at the event Marketing Days 2009 in Cluj Napoca. The students in marketing at the Babes-Bolyai University organize this event between 11th and 13th may.

I will speak about branding and what are the basics in brand building. I hope the students in Cluj will enjoy my speech.

But till then it will be an awesome weekend in Timisoara – great city and lots of pubs. Monday and Tuesday I’ll be in Oradea staying at some friends and drinking Palinka. Palinka is a local spirit drink with 60% pure alcohol. J

I’ll post pictures from my trip.

Enjoy a beautiful weekend.

An old song on the economic crisis

The band Faithless has a quite old song – “Mass destruction”. It is very interesting considering the actual economic crisis:

“Wicked mind is a weapon of mass destruction.
Disinformation is a weapon of mass destruction.
Racism Disinformation is a weapon of mass destruction.
Fear is Disinformation is a weapon of mass destruction.
Greed is a weapon of mass destruction.
Inaction Disinformation is a weapon of mass destruction.”

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Steve Jobs speach at Standford

It’s pretty old (2005), but it’s great.

It really is helpful to review it when things seem to go bad.

I hope that Steve Jobs will get well soon and rejoin Apple.
Enjoy it!

A raise in taxes in Romania

From the first of may taxes were raised in Romania by the Government.

It’s not a direct raise, but by introducing a minimum tax on companies even if the companies are not making any profit.

Forcing companies in paying VAT for automobiles less than 3.5 tones, VAT for fuel and maintenance expenses for cars made another indirect raise in taxes.

These measures are taken in 2009 when the GDP will decrease by 4%.
I hope the Government is only stupid and not mischievous.

The best thing for a young entrepreneur is to fail

I believe that the best thing that can happen to a young entrepreneur is to fail. It is better that being successful because in this way the entrepreneur will gain precious experience and “in field” experience is the best training you can get.

Plus a young entrepreneur has all the time to try again, and again until he or she succeedes.

Here’s a video of Randy Komisar that confirms this opinion.

Enjoy it !

Sunday, April 5, 2009

My First Post On my New Blog

Wellcome everyone to my new blog

This is my english blog.

My name is Nicholas Naumof. I am a marketer and I live in EU - Romania.

On this blog I'll post my thots on marketing, business and economics.

I hope you'll like the posts.

If you wish to contact me please use this e-mail: nicolae.naumof at