In this struggling economy, branding is still just as important… if not more.

26 11 2008

Businesses such as Walmart and McDonalds are thriving in these hard times because they have positioned themselves as the brand that will save you some cash. Whether or not these merchants actually save you money compared to other stores of similar product and price-range, doesn’t really matter when the consumer immediately associates the brand with value and savings.

walmartDespite what some may say about branding or rebranding your company in tough economic times, Walmart recently rolled out a new, more personal, softer logo and branding campaign (they even removed the hyphen.) This new identity, with a revived use of light and color, was said to create a more accessible and experiential feel for the store. With the inclusion of this new look (and of course the horrific downturn in the economy), Walmart has seen a steady boost in sales this summer and fall when most other retailers are down close to double-digits.

So in conclusion, don’t let the image of your business suffer because you think going the cheap route on your company’s identity is a way to cut costs. Just remember no matter what you are selling, clients and consumers alike want to do business with companies that appear professional – if for no other reason then to make certain the money they are spending with YOUR company is the correct choice.


Holly Davis

Humor…A Powerful Political Weapon

25 11 2008

The ability to generate a quick and witty remark with precise timing is among the most important attributes of a political leader. Winston Churchill, Britain’s famed war time Prime Minister is world famous for his slashing political verbal comebacks. The following are a few of my favorites.

A female member of the British parliament particularly loathed Churchill. When she encountered him at a political cocktail party she confronted him by stating, “If you were my husband, I would put poison in your glass.”

He quickly retorted, “If you were my wife…I would drink it.”

Regarding his political revival Clement he had the following comments:

  • “Clement Atlee is a sheep in sheep’s clothing.”  
  •  “Atlee is a modest man, who has much to be modest about.”
  • “An empty taxi arrived at 10 Downing Street, and when the door was opened, Atlee got out.”

Churchill speaking in Parliament in 1931 about a government colleague for whom he had little respect:

“I remember when I was a child, being taken to the celebrated Barnum’s Circus, which contained an exhibition of freaks and monstrosities, but the exhibit on the program which I most desired to see was the one described as ‘The Boneless Wonder.’ My parents judged that the spectacle would be too demoralizing and revolting for my youthful eye, and I have waited 50 years to see The Boneless Wonder–sitting on the Treasury Bench.”



20 11 2008

About a month ago I wrote a post about the importance of using social networks because there is a network out there for everybody. And an emerging social bookmarking site, Tip’d, is no exception.

And Tip’d is very relevant right now. It is a bookmarking site for financial news, ideas and advice, which is fitting considering the state of the economy.

A post by the Blog Herald highlights how far the site has come in a short amount of time and how it is already rivaling other social bookmarking sites like Digg, mainly because it’s serving a niche market that the others don’t.

So, if there isn’t a social network out there for something already, someone is probably creating it, especially if it is relevant to something happening today.

And this is important for companies to know. Watch what is going on in your industry and find out where it is being talked about.

For example, if you are in the finance industry, you should be monitoring Tip’d to find out what articles are being bookmarked and what comments are being made. And it wouldn’t be a bad idea to respond to some of those comments so people know you’re listening.

It’s all about two-way communication. People want to know what you have to say.


“Searching for new targets……acquiring……acquiring…..”

19 11 2008

Elected Congressional Officials……You are the next target!!

I attended a meeting of elected officials recently where a noted political veteran gave an overview of the elections and predictions of things to come. Very enlightening, and quite a wake-up call to those in office today…..and hoping to remain there going forward!

Regardless of your personal political convictions, consider the following:  Ohio and Michigan’s economies are in the tank, and yet the Ohio Governor has a 60% approval rate, and Michigan voters just re-elected the majority of current elected Democratic leaders.  Their reason?  They are not targets.  Yet.

The 2008 elections were aglow with “Blame Bush” rhetoric.  Economic troubles? Blame Bush. War on Terror? Blame Bush. Gas prices really high? Blame Bush.  (Although when prices come down they Blame Bush and his “oil buddies” and call for increased gas taxes….go figure!)  In the end, the Call For Change that resonated across the nation resulted in significant election gains for Democrats, as well as the election of Senator Obama.  The problem for the majority, however, is that Bush will be gone soon.  Then who will people blame??  The target has been on Bush’s back for his entire 8 year reign will now be redirected.  At you??

As the American electorated realizes that the new administration cannot fix all our problems overnight, and with the inevitable stumble and mistakes that all new administrations make, watch the rhetoric turn ugly. And, quickly!  Congressional Democratic leaders are buzzing with their new-found strength and expanded majority. However, polling shows that Congress has an overall approval rating of under 30%, below even that of George W. Bush.  Plus, 50 million people did not “Vote for Change”, and they are now the rabid minority who will be quite vocal.  The target may quickly be on the new leaders…..and with the economic forecast for the foreseeable future…..I send a warning to ALL incumbents for 2010, Be Advised!!

Think this is empty banter?  Look at recent history:  In 1992, Bill Clinton came to power on the campaign of “Change”.  In his first two years in office he enjoyed a Democratic House and Senate, and a laundry list of special interests who wanted their issues addressed immediately!  What happened? A huge tax increase, which became very unpopular very quickly, the appointment of under-qualified cabinet positions that turned over quickly, scores of military bases closed and local communities impacted by the job losses, and, of course, the universal health care program which was built under secrecy and died a horrible death in 1994.  (It was the Democratic Congressional leaders that killed it, not the Republicans as many conjecture incorrectly)

Ther result??  In 1994, the relatively unknown Newt Gingrich and other Republicans overwhelming retook the House with the Contract with America. President Clinton, who was nicknamed “Teflon” for his ability to avoid blame, reached out the conservatives under the so-called “Triangulation” strategy of working with the opposition. Two years later, even with a travesty of a campaign which featured Bob Dole and his tired, old school rhetoric, Clinton was re-elected, but Republicans increased their majority again.  Why?  It was very easy to blame Congress and ineffective leaders.

In 2008, we are still at war in two countries, the economy is facing its largest challenges in two generations, scandals continue in corporate America and in Washington, and a relatively newcomer is taking over in the White House.  Senator Obama faces incredible challenges, but is very popular due to his brilliantly engineered campaign. So for the next two years? Again, current Congressional members… ARE the next target!

The elections showed that while Obama won the election handily, the country overall has not swung hard to the left, as some groups would like to think.  If massive tax increases and greatly increased government programs are the leading initiatives in 2009, I would not want to be in the congressional majority come election time 2010!  I guess we’ll see where the priorities are placed by Congress for the next two years.

Better start handing out the teflon…….


Great (Unrealistic) Expectations

19 11 2008

Public relations is a great tool for building credibility with your stakeholders. It’s an unbiased way of presenting yourself and your message using the media. And, to top it all off, it’s more cost efficient than some marketing and advertising tools. So what’s the problem with this? Read on.

 It’s not always a guarantee that you’re going to have a hit in the local newspaper or on the local TV newscast. Why a company or person gets coverage is not because the reporter or editor plays favorites (that would be irresponsible journalism), it’s because REAL news was happening. Real news doesn’t have to be breaking or be a global issue. News is news: it’s a piece of information that hasn’t been reported on and released to the world, and is of interest to a group of people. Sounds easy enough, but the problem is when it is expected that your “news” deserves coverage, which isn’t always true.

 To put it bluntly: what’s important to you isn’t always important to everyone else. What you think is “news” may not really be news, so it’s not always worth the effort to develop a news release or pitch an editor.

 I’m sure as the head of a company or manager of a product line, it can be difficult to detach yourself from the idea of getting coverage and evaluating whether your news/message is really newsworthy. To help me determine whether “news” is really news, I ask myself the following questions:

 1. What impact does this have on the target audience?

 2. Has it been done before?

 3. Has it been reported on recently?

 If your answers are “yes” to questions 2 and 3, then you most likely shouldn’t proceed with a concerted PR effort. If you feel that your message will have an impact your audience, per question 1, then proceed with caution. You may or may not get coverage.

 The point is, have realistic expectations for your PR program. You may not always have news to report every week, month or quarter, but when you do, you’re going to get people’s attention. No matter what, coverage is never a guarantee. The best a PR professional can do is develop a great pitch to the most appropriate media at the right time.


YouTube will rule the world

18 11 2008

youtube_logo1We all know that YouTube takes up a good deal of our personal and professional lives. But, did you hear this:

“All by itself, YouTube comprises 20 percent of all HTTP traffic, or nearly 10 percent of all traffic on the Net. Let’s repeat that: one site takes up 10 percent of the bandwidth on the entire Net.” (

Massive! I love YouTube and all it’s done for the web, and communications as a whole. One day, I think YouTube will rule the world!

Matt White

Puppies and Promises

14 11 2008

By now you have probably heard that President-elect Barack Obama has promised his two daughters a puppy when they move into the White House in January. Well, so has every major animal shelter, breeder and dog food company in America. Pedigree, is no exception.

Dear President-elect Obama

Dear President-elect Obama

Pedigree has launched a marketing campaign to remind the Obama family that shelter dogs are among the best animals to adopt, and as a designer I believe that they have hit the mark. Their clean presentation and adorable puppy draws any animal lover in. Who wouldn’t want to adopt that dog with its floppy ears and wiry coat. Beyond the adorable image though is a very succinct marketing message that reverberates Mr. Obama’s campaign mantra of hope and goes further to subtly remind all of us of his campaign promises big or small.

Thank you Pedigree for producing a beautifully elegant ad while driving home a marketing message we can only hope President-elect Barack Obama will see and take to heart.

Allison Stulpin

The Bradley Effect

14 11 2008

If you are a political junkie or a connoisseur of media programs, you’ve heard the term “Bradley Effect” many times during the long presidential campaign.  

The Bradley Effect, less commonly called the Wilder Effect, is a theory proposed to explain observed discrepancies between voter opinion polls and election outcomes in some U.S. government elections where a white candidate and a non-white candidate run against each other. Instead of ascribing the results to flawed methodology on the part of the pollster, the theory proposes that some voters tend to tell pollsters that they are undecided or likely to vote for a black candidate, and yet, on election day, vote for his white opponent. It was named after Tom Bradley, an African-American who lost the 1982 California governor’s race despite being ahead in voter polls going into the elections.

The Bradley effect theorizes that the inaccurate polls were skewed by the phenomenon of social desirability bias. Specifically, some white voters give inaccurate polling responses for fear that, by stating their true preference they will open themselves to criticism of racial motivation. The reluctance to give accurate polling answers has sometimes extended to post-election exit polls as well. The race of the pollster conducting the interview may factor in to voters’ answers.

As most of the creditable pollsters were able to accurately predict the outcome of the 2008 presidential races both nationally and at the state level, the Bradley Effect has been (at least temporarily) put to bed. Although on second thought…as the 24-hour consumer- focused media require ample opiate to spoon feed the masses with “news” that creates controversy to further enhance the value of advertising dollars…we will see it again in 2012. See you soon Bradley!  


Talk About Being a Hypocrite!

13 11 2008

Ok, maybe that is not what you were talking about.

I watched this video on YouTube about a branding agency called mono that is moving to uptown Minneapolis, and people are trying to prevent it from moving there. They are picketing and trying to get signatures because the agency is using kids in ads (for Sesame Street, mind you), and the people
feel mono is brainwashing consumers into buying things they don’t want.

First of all, when you watch this, where is the punch line at the end? There has to be a joke – somewhere??

Second, aren’t they essentially also brainwashing people into their strange methodology? Look at how many people sign their petition just because they ask them to. I applaud the people that didn’t fall for it!

And my third and final point, who has the time to petition something like this? They really should put all their “spare” time into something more meaningful, such as a charity.

While advertising may sway your decisions on purchases, it is also because of advertising that we can get all the facts on big purchases so we can shop as educated consumers.  Can you imagine the bland existence we would be living in without advertising?  Thanks to advertising, we can see that there are choices to make, and we make them based on the education we garner from such agencies.


Day Three of President-Elect Obama’s Re-Election Campaign

7 11 2008

Martin Moleski

History was made and the world seems to be pretty pleased that Americans selected Barack Obama as our next president. I have to give credit when credit is due, and he ran a near flawless campaign. Although he faced many hurdles, his campaign never lost focus of the end result; making sure he got to 270 electoral votes. If there was ever an appropriate time for a “Mission Accomplished” banner, it should have been displayed at Grant Park on Tuesday night (I like to imagine the campaign staff argued over whether they should put 60 American flags, multiple Greek columns or the banner behind him).

So now that Obama is just 74 days away until his historic inauguration, I’m actually more focused on the 750+ days or so from now when the Republicans try to get back into the White House. As I scanned the headlines this morning here is what I saw:

  • Dow down 900+ points since Obama elected
  • Jobless rate jumps to 14 year high
  • Ford plans more cuts after $129 million loss
  • Obama faces Cold War threat, warning from Israel

Not the best situation to be entering. My point here is that everything, EVERYTHING, President-Elect Obama does from today moving forward can be used against him in 2012. He needs to understand, if he wants to be re-elected, that his administration must be a continuation of his campaign. He can never stop campaigning. Every interview, statement, back room conversation, Joe Biden gaffe, cabinet position pick, legislation signed, etc. will be scrutinized and most likely used against him. He better be sure he picks the right kind of dog for his kids, too.

Remember, his campaign started in February of 2007. It won’t be long before it all starts again. My instincts tell me that he will be “Fired up….and Ready to Go.”

* Personal plea to President-Elect Obama: If you want to win Ohio again in 2012, please bring some of your change mojo to the Browns defense. They are awful.