Archive for the ‘Branding’ Category


We are…losing grasp on what is important

November 10, 2011

After all the events that transpired since the weekend and then the 10:00 news conference last night, I am, like many, saddened.

But not like most die-hard Penn State fans. Not like the ones who are crying foul that their beloved head coach has been treated so poorly by administration, media, and some fans; that he himself has faced a criminal act. No I am sad that people are placing a higher value on the game of football and a coach, than the true criminals who hurt and abused countless little boys in University facilities.

How can anyone lose sight that the real issue here isn’t an NCAA violation, it is the violation and vile acts against innocent children? Sure, I am bitter. I spent 35 years cheering for a man and program that up until last week I would have defended like my own. And the weight of feeling cheated and let down is crushing.

I can see why people can’t let go and acknowledge this was indeed the right thing to do. In a world that seems to get more violent, disgraceful, disgusting, and selfish every day; there was a man whose values rose above those acts; a man who single-handedly changed a game, a city, a University, and even a culture.

And it just that reason why I feel no sympathy or sadness for Joe. Had he truly been the man above, he would have used that idol status that so many in central PA and around the country anointed him, to do the right thing. To go above and beyond a protocol, to tirelessly defend those who can’t defend themselves, and selflessly, not selfishly put himself out there at all costs.

Everyone makes mistakes and ironically the biggest mistake this icon made, might be the best lesson he inadvertently taught. As a society, we all fail, when we sit idly by and hope someone else will make things better. All 6’5 and 230 of Mike McQueary could have been used to stop a stomach churning event and helped a little boy who God only knows how much he has suffered and sadly will probably always continue to do so. Instead he cowardly left, he left the facilities. He talked to his father and then to Joe and they left it up to someone else, who then left that repulsive excuse for a human, back into their facilities until last week.

I hope as a society we all take back responsibility, accountability, and respect in ourselves so that we feel empowered as individuals to make a difference and do the right thing, especially when those decisions and actions impact the world’s greatest gift, our children.

I’m not sure if I will watch this weekend. I so badly want to move on and cheer loudly for the 125 young men who want nothing more than to escape on the football field and do what they love. They have done nothing wrong. However, at this time cheering for a game seems wrong and almost inappropriate in light of what has happened. I’d rather cheer knowing that those guilty will never see the light of day again and for any victims who have overcome this. It is their strength, comfort, and peace I pray for.


Content is king.

February 9, 2011

Being in the advertising and communications world, I often get asked by my family and friends what advertising I like the most and why. To me, it is much more than clever post work, a new technology, or a catchy jingle. And whether I am reading a blog, watching a TV spot (right who does that anymore), tweeting, or even looking at brand packaging on my favorite beverage, content is king.

This past Super Bowl is no exception. Sure I liked the Volkswagen Darth Vader spot and the Doritos finger licker, but for the most part, they all fell short. They weren’t clever, they didn’t make me think, laugh, or remotely want to buy what they are selling. And in the economic market we are still cruising through and the fact the world is moving more towards mobile and 140 characters or less thinking, I wanted short, sweet, and smart content.

With QR Codes, interactive video, and social media continuing to take its place in the communication du jour space, I am excited and a little concerned.

I don’t want to see effort ruined by poor writing, bad creative, and content best left in a trash can all because of the rush to try something new. Don’t excite me by putting a QR Code on your business card only to send me to your contact information…AGAIN. Don’t tease me with a great tweet and then drive me to a page that looks like I should be on a VIC-20 (young readers click the link, your flash drive has more memory.)

All in all the things we remember, enjoy, engage with, and ultimately own are because we made a connection with the content. There was something that stirred a response in us that made us take action.

What are some great or not-so-great examples you have seen recently?



How about a little customer service?

November 30, 2010

Working in the communications field for more than a decade, there are a couple of questions we always get asked. Can you make the logo bigger? What is my ROI? I don’t have a budget, how much will it cost? Is this going to work? And the list goes on and on.

All of those questions are legitimate (ok the logo one is a bit tiresome) but no matter what the answer is, it all comes back to what kind of experience your customers are having that makes them want to buy more.

You could make the best tacos on the planet but when you treat your customers like an irritation, you might as well be spitting in their guacamole.

All the time, effort, money, and strategies put into market research, development, and product launches means nothing when your customers feel slighted. I am a big fan of Nordstrom. I like their store offerings but more importantly I like the way I am treated when I am there. People actually look and then act like they want to help. I’ll even take it a step farther and say that they want to work with people. Wow, what a concept.

It always makes me laugh (after I have cursed like an Irish Hurling Captain – great sport by the way) when people working registers, serving tables, or in an actual “customer service department” roll their eyes in disgust when a paying customer, with a lot of choices, comes into their sacred territory. Here is an idea, work the stockroom, wash dishes, or stay at home typing online ads for money. You are not only saying a lot about yourself, but also ruining the culture of those around you and the integrity of your company’s brand.

So as we shop, eat, and drink our way through another holiday season, take a look around and start to really see who gets it. I already have a couple of places that I won’t be visiting again.

What good or bad customer experiences have you already had this holiday season?


What I learned from LeBron

July 9, 2010

First let me start by saying I believe everyone is entitled to switch careers, positions, companies, etc., depending on their needs and wants. Athletes shouldn’t be any different. However the way in which we do things is important.

As much fun as it would be to have our industry reflect the professional sports world, thankfully it doesn’t. I wasn’t courted as a sophomore Ball State student by the biggest agencies in the US to come out early and sign on with millions of dollars to bring my talents. I didn’t come to Hetrick from my previous employer because I felt I could add more Addy’s to the trophy case. And last week after I wrote a strategic brief and was walking to lunch downtown I wasn’t flooded by people telling me, “I am a HUGE fan. The way you articulated the client’s point of difference and audience segmentation was sick.” (Ok, I did buy the intern lunch for saying that in a crowd of people.)

My point is, I will never know what it is like to piss a whole city off (at least I hope not) or have the stress of millions of expectations set upon me from people I will never meet. But what I do know is that my reputation or  “brand” if you will, would take such a huge hit from showing such an arrogant, selfish, and narcissistic approach to leaving a current employer that I would have a hard time finding work again.

We all have reasons for why we leave. Some sound or feel more noble possibly, but either way the way we treat people, show respect, and hold ourselves accountable for moving forward is every bit as important as the work we leave behind.

So “King” Lebron, let’s see if karma hits you where it hurts. And let’s also see if the King moniker has an odd effect much like Elvis and Michael. I guess if LeBron has an amusement park in Miami and starts putting peanut butter on his Cuban sandwiches we’ll know.

What do you all think?


Are internal brands harder to manage than external ones

July 1, 2010

I spent the first six years of my career working at Bernard Hodes Group, if you don’t know them check them out: I learned valuable lessons in what it takes to build internal brands that assist in recruitment and retention of employees.

And it amazed me at the reaction I got when I stepped from a human resources communications agency into the traditional marketing communications world. Concerns I didn’t understand metrics, how to deliver a brand promise, and how difficult it is to maintain ongoing relationships with consumers.

In both situations you are dealing with volumes of competition, outside influencers negatively affecting your brand, and the small window to hit someone with your message. The difference for me is what you do with your time and/or money compared to what you want to do with your life.

Once you recruit them, you better retain them. It is a very expensive process to deal with a large number of turnovers, not only from a cost and loss of time standpoint, but an external perception as well. Ad agencies can be like this too. We all know the firm that seems to burn through creative directors like cheap tires and the water cooler discussions about why. That can be as damning as roaches at that hamburger joint.

It is one thing to market a one-dollar hamburger; it is another to sell a career path that starts with flipping them.

What do you all think?