Welcome to 2009! Man, it’s been a pretty wild ride.

Think of it… a short skip back, just five years, shows us that America can completely bungle a Presidential election and live (so far) to tell the tale. Counting errors blamed on both computers and humans made us realize that we can’t solely depend on one or the other any longer.

And if you remember, just nine years ago (this week), we were all wiping the sweat from our collective brow, having survived Y2K! My computer didn’t crash, did yours? (heck, I used a Macintosh… still do… did that really matter?)

If you think back just a little further – only 12 years – you may remember, Europe decided (all together no less) to pool their economic tender into the Euro. Contrary to naysayers, I don’t remember their exchange system crashing to a cataclysmic halt… heck I don’t recall even one report of change being counted back incorrectly.

Fascinating. I call it “Progress in spite of technology.”

So, why the somewhat tweaked glance back in time? Perspective. From what I can see, and whether we want it to or not, technology will continue to integrate itself deeper into our daily lives. And for marketing and communications, Web sites, blogs, e-mail marketing, micro blogging are all here to stay. So the time for being “technophobic” or a skeptic is over. Honestly, if you haven’t embraced implementation of technology in your communications (personally AND professionally), you’re already WAY behind the curve… but there’s hope.

So for 2009, what can we do to “tech-up” our marketing, our communications — our brands?

Here are some simple, yet TRUE steps – A Baker’s Dozen:

  1. 1. Weave A Technology Culture – Use it to facilitate personal interaction, not replace it.
  2. 2. Get social – Work within the culture, not against it, to facilitate technology adoption.
  3. 3. Keep your message consistent – across all channels/platforms (from traditional print to new media).
  4. 4. Maintain transparency – Technology accentuates the negative and brand ownership needs to be positive!
  5. 5. Use technology strategically – get information to the right people at the right time.
  6. 6. Start small – build on incremental successes. Turn the flame up too high and you’ll get burnt.
  7. 7. Always Learn – Plan on and budget for extensive support and training for new technologies.
  8. 8. Rethink Your Collateral Flow – Keep print materials available—just use them strategically.
  9. 9. One Channel Is NEVER Enough – Use overlapping channels to communicate to a broader audience and “spread the love.”
  10. 10. There Are No Stupid Questions – Ask for feedback and act based on it.
  11. 11. Measure Twice, Cut Once – Obtain metrics where you can and make strategic decisions.
  12. 12. Find Your “Special Purpose” – Don’t use technology only for technology’s sake—make sure it has a communication purpose.
  13. 13. Always Chalk BEFORE You Misque – Test your message before you send it—and check everything, to the smallest detail (from spelling to links!)

In short – Embrace the future or it will come up an kick you in the shorts! History (even the shortest sampling of it) has proven that fact…

“I think there is a world market for maybe five computers.” Thomas Watson, chairman of IBM, 1943

The Brand Chef would like to wish you all a Happy New Year!

Until Next Time…

Keep Cooking!
Andrew B. Clark
— The Brand Chef