Chocolate Coffee Bread

1 1/2 cups of all-purpose flour
2 tbsp. cocoa powder
1 tsp. baking soda
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
Pinch of salt
1/3 cup olive oil
1 cup sugar
1 cup freshly brewed strong black coffee
1 tsp. vanilla extract
Chocolate chips
* Make sure the coffee is warm. It shouldn’t be boiling hot.

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees Celsius. Grease and flour a loaf pan 5-9 inch in size.
Sieve the dry ingredients and keep aside.
In a separate bowl, mix together oil, sugar and vanilla extract. Add in the flour mixture alternatively with black coffee.
Sprinkle flour on chocolate chips and add them into the batter. Mix them well. The only reason to coat chocolate chips in flour is that by doing so they would not sit down on the pan.
Pour the bread mix in greased pan and bake at 180 degrees C for 40 to 45 minutes. Check if the bread is ready by inserting a tooth pick. If the tooth pick comes out clean the bread is done.
Let the bread sit aside and cool completely before slicing.

Survival in the Social Network

Today everybody has made their presence on social media properties. There are so many resources, speaking about how to optimize our presence online, how to use social media for business and they talk about the key of social media, i.e. engaging with your customers. They talk about the AIDA concept of engaging online. Get attention, generate Interest, ignite Desire and make them take Action.

However, how to decide the extent and type of engagement? Does quality/quantity of engagement have any weight?

Yesterday I was talking with my friend who is doing volunteer work with an organization. She is entrusted the task of managing company’s networking accounts.

She told me that she would daily update the account with new articles, updates about the company, chat with few customers online, wish them on their special occasions and sometimes write few quotes. This was her start of the project.

She did this for a few days. After that she was told by the supervisor that, you are not engaging with customers online and that she should not be talking with them, wishing them or writing quotes on the networking accounts. She was asked to simply share the company news and articles related to their industry.

I was surprised with this. My thought about Engagement is that both the parties should benefit. Engagement is Mutual. People are, or take interest in you only when they see some benefit. Taking interest in their lives, knowing their needs and then gradually explaining how you can serve them.

Sometimes he/she may not be your prospective customer, but may recommend one.

Recently Michael Stelzner interviewed Brian Solis on Social Media Examiner about his recent book: Engage .You may view his post and interview here:

Since the field of social media is already crowded, the only way to survive is better engagement.

Share your views of how to engage better and optimize online networking.

Success Equation of General Electric !

Since its inception GE started as an electric buzz of invention and change. And till date nothing has changed. GE’s driving force of imagination and innovation has remained the same.

The only factor that drives GE, its people, innovation, product and performance in the market is Imagination and innovation. “What we imagine, we can make happen.”

GE’s tagline is more than just a tagline; it speaks for the reason why it exists, which is instilled in all its brand touch points.

All the activities at GE are driven by a GE equation which gives a voice to its mission statement.

(Photo taken by Ed Schipul)

This equation is so creatively made that it is easy for anybody to quickly understand what GE stands for, what is important at GE, and what is its driving force and what is the core brand. It’s like just one equation tells everything, which is easy to remember and associate with.

It proclaims the success factor of GE. GE people are the sum of unceasing curiosity and relentless drive. Their imagination divided by risk multiplied by the square of their sweat, yields breakthrough ideas that make people go WOW.

Which other organization’s do you know of has a strong success factor like this?Share your thoughts here.

The Reign of bottled water

Bottled water, by definition is the drinking water packaged in plastic or glass containers.

A single bottle costs an average $1 to $5 while tap water costs less than $0.01.However our concern is not money but health.

Few days back there was a seminar in our residential community regarding bottled water, which demonstrated different varieties of water, showed some purity testing and ultimately marketed their water. I attended the seminar, observed the demonstrations and comparison of water types.

However I think we never had to make choice for drinking water because it is available easily in our tap, but the evolution of different varieties, flavors and marketing has pushed us go out and make a different choice.

If I rewind my life 20 years back and see when daily my mom or grandma would collect the tap water into two pots and we would use it for drinking and cooking purpose. This same process was followed every day. And this used to be a tradition in most of the Indian homes. However this is vanishing .Right now if we go and have a look, we may see a different scenario. Purified water bottles and mineral water tanks have taken the place of traditional tap water. This reflects the success of marketing strategy applied by the water bottle companies to sell their water.

What do you think, which one is better for our health and environment?

Watch The Story of Bottled Water released on March 22, 2010 on, which tells the story about the evolution of bottled water, realities about drinking water, and how marketing of products, affect our daily decisions.

This video is really an eye opener and clarifies many of our misconceptions about the water we drink. Although this video is a bit long, it’s worth watching sharing it with  friends.

Read for more facts about bottled water:

Why internal branding is crucial to success!

How we look and think of ourselves inside very much indicates how we would act outside. The same thing applies to an organization. Employees are the backbone of the organization and hence the importance of internal brand engagement cannot be ignored for the following reasons:

– Our employees are our primary audience and regular brand messengers/brand ambassadors. They can successfully pass on what they have understood. So it is very much essential that they understand the brand recipe very well to pass it on consistently and in its original form. Further the experiences and messages customers’ encounter, very much depend on their interactions with the employees (mostly company representatives/sales staff and front desk staff).

– Internal brand engagement ensures that all the stakeholders get a consistent and coherent brand message at all the points of interactions, either it is in store, website, fuel pump or a brochure. It would ensure that all the employees know the brand recipe by heart, and can deliver what it needs for the brand to succeed.

– Organizational engagement would also allow us to control the experience our customers get, at all the touch points. If the whole manpower of the company understands what the brand stands for, what it is and what they can do to make it a success, they would be inspired to come up with innovative ideas to make their brand lively. Employees, who don’t know enough about the brand, are actually putting their organization at risk.

– We tend to make mental images and judgments about a company based on the kind of response and experience we get from company staff/employees.

A great word of mouth promotion potential is untapped in internal branding. Not to forget that each and every individual of the organization is responsible for the brand success. There could be no better brand advocate for us than our employees.

For an example,here is a post about Starbucks and the effort it puts after internal branding:

Learning language kid’s way!

Learning a new language would seem fearsome for many, as we recall from years of struggle with grammar and translations in school. But let us recall how we, as infants learned the language we are speaking daily in our routine life. Infants start communicating at eighteen months and speak the language fluently before they go to school. And they never battle translations or grammar perfections along the way.
They figure out language purely from the sounds, objects and human interactions around them.
With the use of five senses they get signals to their brain, which makes them understand and feel things and people around them.
Meanings blend to words, words string into composition and language erupts.
This learning process demonstrates three key characteristics of kids as a learner:

First, and foremost a child’s natural language-learning ability free of correction and perfection.

Second, their learning skill is considerably accelerated by constant feedback from family and friends. Positive correlation and persistent reinforcement nurture the child’s language and learning skills into a full talkative face.
Third, they learn by playing. With their five senses activated, while playing with parents and playmates-“clap, clap…”, “smile”, “what is your name?” etc help them develop language skills that connect them to the outer world.

We as adults still have this ability that we possessed as kids, the skills of self teaching and learning by observation. Sadly, now we know more of grammar and correction of language here and there which forces us to conclude the learning process as unexciting and uninteresting.
In today’s era what are the hurdles we are facing in our learning process? What stops us?
What can we learn from infants to make our journey of learning more fun and exciting?

The vital ingredient of a brand’s recipe!

Did you ever played the game of Telephone when you were a kid?

We would sit in a circle with a group of friends, and whisper a word/phrase or sentence in neighbor’s ear and then our neighbor would pass on the message to another. And it would be passed along person to person. The last person to hear the message would speak out the message as he heard. The more twisted the message, the more fun it becomes. Misunderstanding, misinterpretations, poor communication and language barriers are expected.

Similar to this telephone game, is the game of branding. Rather it is much more serious than a game.

The difference being, one would not want the message to get garbled, scrambled or misinterpreted in any way, especially in a way that would entertain kids. Secondly the players in the branding game are considerably in a large number than in this game. They would include employees, customers, business partners, and all the stakeholders. (Don’t want to miss any player, so mentioned it as Stakeholders).Since the difference is very critical, our message has to be simple and clear to be heard, understood and passed on to all stakeholder touch points, exactly as it started.

So my whole point behind telling this story and comparing it with branding is to highlight the importance of our brand’s DNA, which is a vital ingredient of our brand’s recipe. Once we have a branding idea in our mind, we need to boil it down to a KISS (Keep it Short and Simple) message that captures the core meaning of the brand idea .Much like heating the fragrances to get a strong essence. This strong essence would become our brand’s DNA.

It should be capable to evoke images and thoughts in the minds of stakeholders for remembrance and should be clear to be understood without any help or guidance. And all our stakeholders should have a similar understanding of our brand’s DNA.

Once we have set up our brand’s DNA, then we can decide which branding signals would work the best to communicate the brand message. (TV commercial/ newspaper /social media etc).

This vital ingredient of our brand’s recipe would ensure that our brand message is clear in the minds of our stakeholders and is in sync with our brand idea, business strategy and branding signals.