Measuring Your Brand: Esteem vs. Awareness

There’s a simple exercise that is incredibly powerful when considering marketing, advertising, or branding a company. The practice can be applied to anything – a product, an event, even ourselves – by simply considering two variables: Esteem and Awareness.



Esteem is what the brand is known for, or its image. This includes how much (or how little) the brand is respected, and what it’s respected (or disrespected) for. On one hand, there are brands associated with quality, great service, and other positive traits – like Apple,, and Mercedes-Benz. On the other, you’ve got those universally accepted as undesirable – companies like Enron, or the NFL Replacement Refs (had to…)


Awareness is how well known a brand is. How big – or how small – its reach is. On one hand you’ve got Joe’s Pizza on the corner, serving the locals, and on the other you’ve got Pizza Hut, serving up slices from countless locations on every corner of the globe.

This is what branding is all about. Esteem and Awareness. As far as marketing, advertising, and branding are concerned, they’re the only things that matter. It all boils down to those two pillars. Everything else is secondary.


With all this in mind, here’s a fun trick: plot Awareness and Esteem against X and Y axis, and then split the graph into four quadrants.

In the top right, you’ll find the well known, and well respect brands. This is the sweet spot. Our examples from before – Apple, Mercedes-Benz, and Zappos – are all comfortably in this quadrant.

Below them in the bottom right quadrant, you’ve got well respected but lesser known brands. This is where you’d find high-end niche brands like Harmon Kardon (speakers), or newer startups earlier on their paths, like our friends at InternMatch (internship marketplace) and LikeBright (social dating) – both extremely valued and respected among the communities that know them (and growing every day).

On the left side, the Hemisphere of Sorrow. The top left: high awareness, low esteem. Our earlier examples of Enron and the NFL Replacement Refs fit nicely here.

On the bottom left: unknown, and unloved. The bottom of the barrel. No good examples are coming to mind, but the depths of Apple’s App Store or’s catalog are probably littered with examples of obscure, crappy products.

In Practice

There’s a couple takeaways from this exercise that we’re applying with SimpleCrew. The first is that esteem comes first. Whatever we do, it’s important that we maintain a great reputation, and that our app stays useful and valuable to our customers. The more the better. That is our top priority.

Awareness, while important, comes second. Our marketing and advertising efforts will grow as awareness grows in importance for us. But all the attention in the world is worthless without the esteem that comes from having a dialed-in product and customer support.

That’s the golden tip: Be good. Make it valuable, and make it work. Take care of the people who already know about you – they’re your foundation for esteem. Those early adopters can later become your biggest promoters. With that in place, then go to town on marketing and advertising.

Scale through the roof, but don’t forget your reputation along the way. Because awareness comes and goes, but esteem is your rep for life.

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Starting Up? Beware the Hype.

As we’ve watched our announcement make it’s way around, we’ve appreciated the sudden spikes in our social followers and likes, the new blog subscriptions, and our first flows of web traffic and new account creations. It’s obviously been great to see, but with it all, we’ve kept one important concept in mind: The Hype Cycle.

The Hype Cycle is the pattern of public interest that new things go through after launch. That thing could be, well, anything: a new technology, a new band, a new restaurant, or perhaps in our case, a new product.

The Cycle is made up of 5 parts: the “Trigger”, the “Peak of Inflated Expectations”, the “Trough of Disillusionment”, the “Slope of Enlightenment”, and the “Plateau of Productivity”:

1. The Trigger is the start, sparked by something like a new product launch, an announcement, or a new breakthrough.

2. The Peak of Inflated Expectations = the huge spike in interest that follows the trigger. People talk about it. People hype it. Speculation and excitement fuel the hype.

3. The Trough of Disillusionment – the interest surrounding a new product launch quickly drops off. Related: the “short attention span” of the media and the masses. Like when a crazy news story whips the country into a frenzy, and then the next week, everybody forgets.

4. The Slope of Enlightenment – the company learns the ropes, and starts to get the hang of things. Customers are loyal and satisfied. Word spreads.

5. The Plateau of Productivity – the “thing” stabilizes, matures, and becomes widely accepted. #winning.

So the takeaway for anyone launching their thing: mind the cycle. Don’t get too caught up in the hype. In the days and weeks that follow your launch, interest might drop off. Just stay focused, keep hustling, and listen to your customers.

Your time will come.

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Product updates

Launch: SimpleCrew – The Best Damn Way to Manage Field Teams.

It’s been a long time coming. After months of design, development, testing, and feedback, we’re happy to share with you SimpleCrew – the best damn way to manage field teams. Period.

With SimpleCrew, we’re going to make your team way more effective and more accountable. We’re going to save your team ridiculous amounts of time and energy. And we’re going to do it with style.

Why? Because the old way sucked! We’ve been there. We’ve felt the pain. With SimpleCrew, the difference will be night and day. Here’s how.

Businesses today are using photos from the field in a million different ways. Here are a few:

  • Grassroots marketing teams use photos to track and document team progress in the field.
  • Team managers compile these photos into reports to keep teams accountable and to report work to their bosses or clients.
  • Real estate rehabbers use pictures to prospect new properties in the field.
  • Construction project managers use photos to document work being done on properties.
  • Outside sales teams use photos to track their product placements in retail outlets around the region.
  • Creative professionals use photos to capture inspiration and for visual note-taking.

These are just a handful of examples, but you get the picture. Countless businesses and organizations are using photos to communicate and document their operations “outside the building”. Are you one of them?

Before SimpleCrew, these teams had to rely on messy combinations of photo uploads and downloads, email attachments, desktop folders, and excel spreadsheets to keep everything organized. There were time delays while managers waited for cameras to get back to the office. There were syncing issues, with no easy way to make sure everyone had access to the same folders. Simply put, sending and coordinating photos across a team was a huge pain in the ass.

Does this sound familiar? If so, SimpleCrew is here to help.

Today, using SimpleCrew, teams can now upload photos via our iPhone and Android apps directly to the team’s database hosted securely in the cloud. It happens instantly, so team members don’t have to worry about sending emails or uploading photos later. And every photo includes time and location info, so teams can see organized campaign summaries with timelines and maps showing exactly when and where each photo was submitted from.

The headaches of the old way will be a thing of the past. It’s a beautiful thing.

Web dashboard:

Campaign Timelines:

Campaign Stats/Overview:

Mobile App

(We’re in the App Store and Android Market)

Try SimpleCrew Today, Free.

We built SimpleCrew to be the ultimate web and mobile collaboration tool. Our mission was to make the best solution for teams to share and collaborate using photos, and to make it simple and easy to use. With SimpleCrew, we’ve done just that.

We’re so sure you’ll love it, we’re going to give it to you free for a month before you buy. No credit card needed. Don’t like it? You don’t pay a dime, no cancellation or action necessary.

Sound good? Come try it for yourself. The difference will be night and day.

SimpleCrew Story

A Simple Rebrand

We’re right around the corner from rolling out our first app to the world, and with that in mind, we figured it was due time for a rebrand 🙂



We also have a new launch site to look forward to! We’ll be rolling it out here in the next couple weeks, but here’s a little sneak peek 🙂

We’re pumped! Get ready guys, we’re coming for ya!


How SimpleCrew Shares Internally

Sharing and organizing information internally between team members is crucial for any organization.

SimpleCrew itself is built along that mindset. Before smartphones, coordinating field teams was a pain in the ass. Sharing information between teammates “outside the building” was an expensive challenge. SimpleCrew addresses the particular problem of sharing pictures and location for field team members, but what does a company do to share other information internally?

That was the question that was posed to us recently: How should teams share? Especially in startups, where young companies are trying new things, understanding between co-founders and early employees is critical. But what is the best way to go about that?

At SimpleCrew, we stumbled into a simple solution that has slowly evolved into the perfect tool for doing just that. We call it the Internal Knowledge Database.

The Internal Knowledge Database (IKD) started when we were conducting customer development interviews and asked ourselves: what is the best way to share the notes from these calls? Because Mike and I were working remotely at the time, it’d typically be just one of us on any given call. For obvious reasons, it was important that we both had access to the notes from these customer interviews, so we needed a way for us to store the notes and keep them organized.

As you can see from the screenshots, it’s grown into so much more than that. We keep everything here. I can go on and on about the benefits of having this set up (and I do, below…), but suffice it to say, the IKD is the pillar at the heart of SimpleCrew.

The topics list can grow and grow like an index at the back of a book. As you can see, we also keep track of topics by person. Some of the feedback we’ve gotten from mentors and industry peers was important enough that we wanted a place for it to live that was more present than an email archive. The IKD is perfect.

As you can see, we have a LOT of topics. The “Topics” section is always growing, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but it does make it hard for certain more important sections to stand out.

For that, as you can see, the MOST important tags (“Mentor Wisdom”, “Updates”, “SimpleCrew Calls”, and “Customer Development Tests”) are stored as tabs along the top. I’ve also highlighted a couple posts in their own “Key Resources” section, above the “Topics” breakdown.

Another great idea we’ve used this blog for – sharing key emails. Inevitably, as Mike works on product and I work on business development, some key conversations happen while Mike’s immersed in code. But just like the Customer Development tests, it’s very important that Mike understands what’s being communicated in these interactions. From the outset, we knew we wanted to err on the side of OVER-communicating this stuff to Mike, and give him the option to opt-out of the stream.

This email to a friend who works in PR is a good example. Mike might like to know how our PR strategy is evolving, but it’s not necessarily urgent or pressing for his job. With this post, he can skim it and get a quick picture on his own time, and always reference it later if he wants.

This is also a great place for us to share ideas. Whenever inspiration strikes, either of us can log it, and browse the “Ideas” section later when the time is right.

This particular idea came when I signed up for Yesware – an awesome sales plug-in for Gmail (check it ouf it you haven’t already – it’s free.) I liked their idea of weekly manager emails, and thought eventually it’d be a great idea for us to implement for our future clients. Obviously this idea isn’t part of the scrappy first-launch we’re building up to here shortly, but when the time is right, we know where to find it.

Blogger is crap for some things, and amazing for others. One great thing is that as a Google property, it’s integrated perfectly into Google Apps. We use Google Apps to manage our domain, so it fits easily into our workflow.

Here, we’ve shared permissions to view our private IKD with a special group of people.

Finally, we’re able add people to receive emails for every post. This actually happens to be easily one of the most important features. Without ever taking his focus off programming, Mike can browse important company developments as they happen via his inbox. He can dig in if something catches his eye, or ignore it if it’s unimportant to him. Either way, with this system he has the ability to OPT-OUT of the information stream, which we both agree is the best side to err on.

All the posts live on in our inboxes, so the information is accessible and distributed throughout our company in various places. Easily searchable, indexed, and organized.

The set up is silly easy, and the long term benefits are huge:

One day, we’ll start bringing on new hires. What better way to get them fully up to speed and immersed in our present situation then showing them our archive and letting them dive in?

What better way to keep our investor and select mentors and peers up to date with happenings inside SimpleCrew?

What better way to make sure we don’t miss a thing when compiling our monthly update emails for family, friends, advisors, mentors, and peers?

We’re lucky to have stumbled into this perfect solution for our needs, and are happy to share it here. If you have any questions about our system, feel free to comment here or shoot us an email – we’re happy to help your team use technology to work together more effectively. That’s what SimpleCrew is all about.

SimpleCrew Story

The SimpleCrew Timeline

A little sneak peak of the SimpleCrew Timeline.

Using the SimpleCrew mobile app, field teams submit photos of work in progress (grassroots marketing, outside sales, real estate prospecting, etc…). Photos are sent directly from the field, so team members don’t have to bother with tedious photo uploading and organizing at the end of the day.

Using the time and location info from the photos, we can organize the team’s output in cool ways – like the timeline and map shown above. For the first time, teams and their managers will be able to get a comprehensive picture of their progress in the field.

We’re rolling out soon. Request an invite, and you’ll be the first to know.

Street teams

SimpleCrew and You: The Concert Promoter

Our goal at SimpleCrew is, well, simple. We want to make your field team more effective, and more accountable.

Street teams are close to our heart. In fact, SimpleCrew itself was inspired by the problems we felt while working and managing street teams. We’ve spent years managing grassroots marketing campaigns on behalf of our favorite concert promoters, festivals, and brands. We’ve been there, felt the pain, and are here to help.

For street teams, photos can play a critical role in documenting the marketing work for bosses and clients, and keeping the entire team accountable and on-track, but the current solutions for collecting photos are a mess – point and shoot cameras, photo uploads, email attachments, desktop folders. It isn’t hard to imagine a better way.

After dozens of conversations with street teams in the event promotion realm, we uncovered a startling fact – the average promoter spends between $50-$200 per event on printed marketing materials, but most have little or no system in place for seeing how the materials are being distributed.

Some teams require photos of marketing work in progress. If you already to this, you’ll know that collecting photos from teams can be a bit like pulling teeth. It can be hard to get people to send you quality photos in a timely fashion, let alone a whole team. The current solutions are kind of a pain.

Still, other teams don’t require photos. Knowing how much of a hassle it is to take and submit photos currently, many managers skip the entire process, and opt instead to just distribute their materials and take write off any inefficiencies as part of the game.

With SimpleCrew, we make the photo submission and collection process a breeze. With our solution, managers don’t have to worry about adding to their team member’s burden. Uploading and sharing photos from the field has never been easier. And with SimpleCrew, all photos are submitted with location information, so you can get a birds-eye-view of the reporting work in progress.

Interested in getting started? Request an invite and we’ll be in touch!

Product updates

Private Launch.

In February, we set out to build a solution that would help mobile teams be more effective, and more accountable. The inefficiency we found was something we had encountered personally through our experiences on marketing teams. In conversation after conversation with teams across many industries, we found the the problem persisted.

This week, we’re excited to be launching our first product into the hands of real live teams representing a variety of industries. Included in our first test are teams involved in grassroots marketing (“Street Teams”), real estate prospecting, and outside sales. Over the course of the next few weeks, we look forward to fine tuning our product offering and scaling our efforts.

We see a future where businesses and teams are connected by mobile, and we’re building towards that vision. It’s an exciting thing to be a part of. If you’re part of a team, business, organization, or crew that does work “outside the building” and are curious about how SimpleCrew can help you, shoot us an email.

Interested? Reach out! You can get us a [email protected]. We look forward to hearing from you.

SimpleCrew Story

What is SimpleCrew?

The SimpleCrew Story:

A few years ago, our co-founder Alan was a regional brand manager for Red Bull. He managed those teams of Red Bull reps who would go around and sample Red Bull in the field. At the same time, his mother Tara worked in the field as an agricultural scientist with the USDA. Over time, Alan and his mother realized their jobs shared something in common – photos and reports from the field played a vital role in both their processes.

For Alan, photos were crucial for keeping his team accountable to him, and keeping him accountable to his higher-ups. And Marketing surveys from the field were painstakingly collected and entered into Red Bull’s “Sampling Data Center” – an important market knowledge database at the center of their grassroots marketing efforts.

For Tara, photos were crucial in tracking and organizing the progress of various experiments at research sites around the region. Similarly, surveys and other data had to be collected from the field, and entered into a central database for their team to interpret.

For both Alan and Tara, the processes of collecting and organizing these photos and reports from their teams in the field were painfully inefficient and outdated. Their systems were a messy combination of point-and-shoot cameras and clipboards, excel spreadsheets, data-entry, and email attachments.

What we do:

SimpleCrew is a mobile team management application. We make field teams and their managers more effective, and more accountable.

Using the SimpleCrew App, mobile team members submit photos and reports directly from the field. All submissions are time and location stamped and sent directly to their database, eliminating the need for intermediary data-entry.

On the SimpleCrew online dashboard, managers can oversee the team’s progress with organized campaign summaries, which they can easily track, publish, and share.

SimpleCrew Story

Hello World!

Welcome to the SimpleCrew Blog 🙂

It’s been an exciting 2012 for us here at SimpleCrew. Since our founding, we’ve been hacking and hustling with laser focus, and have set an exciting pace for ourselves as we round the corner on our 3rd month.

Already, we’ve experienced some exciting milestones. Looking forward, we’re excited to share those milestones and updates with you guys here at the SimpleCrew blog.

In addition to our company updates, we look forward to developing this blog as a resource base for mobile field teams. Through extensive research, ongoing conversations with countless teams and managers, and our own experiences in field team management, we’ve been exposed to a wealth of ideas and insights on the art of mobile team management. What better place to share them but here?

So again, welcome, and thanks for looking in. Check back soon. You’ll be glad you did 🙂