Hewlett-Packard decided to spin off their technology division, which was the heart and soul of the company. It took thoughtful communications to distill the breadth and depth of their involvement across myriad industries… soothe the psyche of all the employees being transferred… and successfully launch what was, at that time, Silicon Valley’s largest IPO ever.
"Dreams Made Real" successfully birthed the $8 billion newbie. It also caught the attention of HP's CEO who promptly fired his agency of record, demanding they find someone who can do "work like the new company." (You're welcome, Goodby.)
Buried deep in the genetic code of the BB&T brand is a belief that opportunity has no socioeconomic bias. It is there for every person and in every situation.
We excavated this noble idea and used it to relaunch the brand after a period of growth by acquisition. Knowing that a change in life stage (eg: birth of a child, college, retirement, a growing business) creates a prime opportunity for financial services, we built our campaign around such moments as a way of demonstrating tangible ways BB&T helps its customers.
SaaS companies live or die on lead generation. For Clinicient, this meant keeping the Marketo/Salesforce engine humming at a high RPM while simultaneously elevating the messaging to convey a brand that stood for more than software.
Immediately, we refined the overall look from a “Skittles” color palette to two blues and shifted to Helvetica — a font that gave the brand a more declarative, newsworthy feel. From scratch, we created a library of imagery featuring real clients which instantly set us apart from the phony stock persona of the category. We also dialed up our content production, which fueled a robust schedule of inbound marketing and earned us a reputation as a thought leader who shares knowledge. This sharing was most dynamically embodied in proprietary “Empower” conferences that were held in major cities; serving as the foundation for what became the very first ancillary healthcare customer community.
Then we created and launched an inbound-design website that mimicked the UX of a mobile news feed, reinforcing Clincient’s role as a thought leader and advocate for outpatient rehab.
And throughout all these platforms and original pieces of content, we used the voice of our client, because referrals and word-of-mouth are more persuasive than anything we might say ourselves.
• Marketing, product and sales were connected with a strategy that drove 54% YOY revenue growth and an 88% improvement of the company’s Net Promoter Score.
• Produced and curated over 140 original videos, webinars, case studies, podcasts and collateral that fueled a 233% increase in sales pipeline.
• SEO revamp saw a 478% increase in search impressions and 200% increase in click through rate.
• Website traffic increased 135% and time spent on site increased 229%
• Redesigned trade show presence that yielded a 275% increase in leads.
Is there any room in the crowded US market for another European import? There is, if you create the top position. We did this in a print and collateral campaign targeting architects and interior designers.
Years later, Hansa is still in the US market, affiliated with the Grohe brand.
This is the fundamental question every marketer must ask.
Your brand story is the rudder you need to navigate today’s decentralized media landscape. It’s what elevates your brand to content, which is critical in a pull marketplace. Content is what people are drawn to. Content is what people share in their social network. Content is the ultimate inbound marketing. And without knowing your brand narrative, you’re destined to an endless series of tactical wind sprints that leaves you exhausted and financially spent.
Your brand story is about more than what you do. It’s about why you do it. And why you do it the way you do. Like any good story, it’s about the challenges that stand between your brand and its goal: the protagonist in a quest to overcome the obstacles to a happy ending. And when the story is told properly, your audience comes along for the journey.
Feeling lost in a sea of fragmented media and on-demand consumers? Then let’s talk about your brand story. Every brand has one. And I can help you find, and tell, yours.
Bank One was one of the largest issuers of credit cards. But how do you make thousands of credit cards meaningful to one consumer? By approaching it like a dating service: there’s a perfect match for every person.
This is how we marketed the credit LOB under the master band position of "Individual Answers."
Instantly, variety had meaning. And an online architecture for card shopping was born where people could literally build their own credit card. This approach fueled Bank One's launch of branded cards with partners like Starbucks, Disney, Yahoo, MSN and Sony.
Then Chase bought the whole thing.
Here’s an idea for a franchise that’s struggling... Go with your strength.
We developed a Send-a-Smile mobile app that created engagement and social traction by allowing people to send a virtual sundae to each other with a coupon attached for fulfillment at any Friendly's location. It was part of a “Your Smile’s Showing” campaign.
"People who grow things are different than people who don't." This was the foundational insight to position Miracle-Gro to a new generation of home owners. We promoted personal growth in print, editorial and online blogs... New products were introduced that brought young urbanites into the franchise... We even orchestrated a guerrilla campaign on Capital Hill that delivered gardening kits to every member of Congress based on clinical data that shows gardening makes people more optimistic, more creative and more collaborative. We engaged our demographic through social media where they could request their Senator or Representative be "gifted" and then track their district against the rest of the country.
"Miracle-Gro. And watch what happens." became the mantra across print, digital, television, online video and in store.
Media buyers crunch the numbers. As a premium brand, Conde Nast had to blow up that paradigm and change the equation. We used their famous editorial assets to make a more qualitative pitch about engagement... before engagement became a buzz word.
The clinical definition of creativity is "finding new associations between known things." Which means creative people ought to be forgiven for being nonlinear thinkers.
New connections are not obvious and are found on "the road less travelled." Which makes meetings difficult because a creative person will inevitably veer off the typed agenda in an attempt to solve the issue at hand. This makes rational, linear types -- like accounts execs and marketing directors -- want to pull their hair out. But, as a colleague I worked with once said: "Ideas aren't like work and can't be managed like work."
This axiom never went over well because it meant "the suits" couldn't control the process.
Do this make you nervous? Is it incompatible with your business model? Well, you can try to domesticate creativity into predictable and derived solutions... or you can open up your way of doing business to accommodate fresh thinking and new connections.
Housed inside a classic Beaux Arts building, The Corcoran is a surprisingly edgy community of artists and designers who challenge the status quo. In creating a new logo and identity, we wanted to honor their classical grounding while signaling the irreverent streak that makes them a bit iconoclastic.
The electric car category is moving from early adopters to late adopters. A whole bunch of hybrid leases are terminating. In short, the stars are aligning for Volkswagen to jump into the EV category right as it's about to expand.
Fortuitous that the landscape is populated by extremes: silly miniatures that look like they were designed by Fisher Price... or expensive showpieces offered by Tesla and Audi. That leaves a large, gaping whole for a sensible looking car that makes the electric category appealing to the next wave of adopters -- something more practical than a two-seater with an aesthetic your golfing buddies won't laugh at.
So instead of selling an electric model made by VW, we leveraged the strength of the brand heritage and announced "The People's Car" goes electric.
In a world of instant gratification, why would you devote 18 hours to smoking brisket?
“True ‘Que” was the answer: both as City Barbeque's tagline and their core position. Under this banner of authenticity, we created email blasts, outdoor, print, direct mail, radio and social media… designed a new logo, new apparel and in-store signage… and reinvigorated weekday business by rebranding and relaunching their “Buck A Bone” promo as “Rib Bone Tuesdays” ...or RBT for short.
In 2014, the 15-year-old company expanded into it's fifth state by opening it’s 23rd joint in Raleigh NC.
First USA became Bank One and needed to establish themselves as a consumer brand.
They also wanted to increase business in terms of customers and deposits.
Build a brand and drive retail business. Is it possible to do both? No problem.
With the explosion of wireless, there’s also been an explosion of patents awarded for software. Patents that are heavily used -- and paid for -- by internet companies like Google. So there’s nothing better for their business than to weaken patent law.
Which is exactly what they’ve been lobbying Congress about for over two years, using abusive legal firms who buy patents and then sue for damages the their argument for rewriting legislation. Using these “patent trolls” as a scapegoat is disingenuous, so Qualcomm -- whose business model is based on licensing patents -- needed to call a spade a spade.
We decided to use their own weapons against them, with the dubious url googlethetroll.com that exposed the real agenda behind all the propaganda. This subversive approach stacked the search results for "patent troll," collating the many articles and blogs that explained the real facts, lending a balanced perspective to all of Google's alarmist rhetoric.
Paired with this guerrilla tactic was a pro-patent campaign featuring actual inventors, who would be the real casualties of the proposed patent law change. This included a website that presented the stories of many inventors, along with their clear position of the need for keeping strong patent laws.
Seeing themselves as champions of inventors -- and a leading proponent of an innovation economy -- Qualcomm had us expand our work into a corporate campaign called “Garage Brands” that will eventually include a website, a traveling exhibition and a coffee table book.
Scotts is facing a generational shift in homeowners. Baby Boomers are giving way to Gen Xers, and the ideology of lawn is changing with it. Dual income homeowners, who are less fastidious about lawns, need a better reason than aesthetics to invest in lawn care.
"Bringing Lawns to Life" was the brand position we created for Scotts Turf Builder -- a platform that allowed us to remind young homeowners how much their yard was a part of their living space, and advocate the need to maintain it just like their home.
The messaging celebrated current lifestyles while at the same time evoking a nostalgia for childhood memories of play before technology -- a message that resonates with young parents, who struggle to manage their kid's exposure to video and touch screens.
We also targeted this new generation with online videos and user generated content that circulated through their social networks.
Having worked on McDonald's and Burger King, I'm no stranger to the QSR category. But I had never marketed a restaurant without tables before.
When I saw the restaurant I said: "It looks like a wind-up toy." It was also the executional idea for the "Little Place Big Taste" campaign that ran for three years, without missing a single month of increased sales.
Positioning is the art of sacrifice. That's why it's arguably the hardest part of marketing. Because you have to choose what makes it into the brief and what doesn't. And the stuff you discard will make you sweat.
Too often the strategy is drafted by people who won't create the messaging. They fill up the shopping cart and hope something will connect with the target. But nothing does, because the consumer is not going to do your work for you.
Like any good advertising, this message was built on a consumer insight: that of all the bras a woman owns, there's always one she habitually wears. In fact, this truth was so powerful, we used it to position the entire brand.
To help Ortho evolve from a hardware brand to a household one, we needed to move the conversation from "killing" to "protecting." TV and radio built around young homeowners was complimented by OOH, in-store and digital with a simple brand message that hit home. The result was more shelf facings in multiple departments of the big box retailers. Oh, yeah... and more sales. 34% more, in the first season it ran.
Despite years of coporate advertising, the venerable railroad Union Pacific struggled to project itself as more than a back end vendor. We proposed elevating them to a thought leader by spinning their existing tagline "Building America" into a conversation about the people and ideas that made -- and are making -- this country the great experiment it is.
The first phase utilized nontraditional media in the form of hundreds of rail cars covered with portraits of people who have made or are making an impact on American business and culture. These virtual billboards would be photographically documented, appearing as part of a traveling exhibition in major cities along with the publication of a companion coffee table book. The third stage of the plan followed with repurposing their existing ad budget into production of original content for PBS carrying the same title as the tagline.
This positioning is apropos for a company that literally helped birth and build this country. In fact it's one only they could credibly make. With this shift, we moved the brand from a machine of diesel and steel to a leader of thoughts and ideas.
Always looking for a functional benefit to promote their premium-priced Turf Builder brand, Scotts was able to document that a fertilized lawn uses water more efficiently and needs it less often than an unfertilized lawn. No small thing given all the regional droughts and water restrictions.
So we explored a lot of ways at it, including a symphony of lawn sprinklers, advertising on local water towers and an educational campaign on water-efficient homes. But our favorite was “The Sprinkler Dance” which showed homeowners reviving the 80’s dance craze on their own front lawns.
This effort included television, video banners, in-store POP with a live dance camera that was promoted on weekends by local radio stations, a website with dance uploads posted by homeowners, tshirts for every purchase, and messaging on Scotts' lawn service fleet.
It was also a big hit having the company executives dancing on stage at the annual stakeholders meeting.
I can count on one hand the things I remember learning in college. One of them is this formula, which was taught to me by Orville Comer in Marketing 101.
Apparently, this gem of an equation was never taught to 99% of the people I’ve met during my career. Including countless clients, who talk about value as if it’s an attribute of their brand. Value is never an attribute. It's a conclusion. One drawn by the customer, based on their evaluation of the benefit and the effort they perceive. A calculation that happens numerous times a day. This explains why you’ll stand ten people deep to order a Starbucks mocha latte when you wouldn’t wait more than a minute for diner coffee. The benefit is worth the effort. (Effort often includes price, which, in the case of Zappo’s isn’t better than retail. But since the shopping, delivery and return experience is so unbelievably easy, it mediates the price, resulting in a favorable index.)
This formula is foolproof. You can use it for automobiles, frozen dinners and parking spots. If you are honest with what you plug in for benefit and effort, you can increase your value proposition by tweaking either factor. Guaranteed.
The Japanese manufacturer Toto wanted to introduce a new product into the US market: an electronic seat called a "Washlet" that converts a conventional toilet into a bidet. Which really means they were introducing a new behavior into American culture.
Stage one of the launch was a cryptic outdoor campaign in NYC that used the product's suggestive logo to drive curious Manhattanites to their website.
Due to agressive marketing by the poultry and pork councils, beef consumption was in decline. So The Beef Council embarked on their first-ever brand campaign. Using Aaron Copeland's classic music and Robert Mitchum's inimitable voice, "It's What's For Dinner" reversed the trend, exceeding the client's goal of increasing sales by $1.4B in the first year of airing.
The more the internet created options and competition, the more important it was for Grainger to position themselves as more than a parts supplier, but a culture who "Get's It Done.”
We explored various pathways into this position: (1) identifying with the customer’s often thankless job, to (2) their pedigree as “doers”, to (3) a keen understanding of how critical even the smallest part can be to operations, to (4) leveraging the distinctive box as a branding device.
Design is how I got into this business. So, yes, I can design.
I've created logos for museums, banks, telecommunications companies and utilities.
I've designed packaging for an insecticide, eyeglass cleaner and coffee machines.
I've built out identity programs for a travel publication, a technology company, two lawn and garden brands and a couple museums.
I've designed apparel, book covers, annual reports, restaurant menus and websites.
I wonder what's next...
The way you see a place, a moment or an event is unique. And if not for digital photography, the world would never see what you see.
This was the empowering idea behind a print and Grand Central Terminal OOH campaign that featured actual photographs taken by actual Olympus owners, which tied to a website where visitors could post images in topical groups, similar to cowbird.com
We also proposed an original program named "Through Your Eyes" that featured a panel of photo experts (pro photographer, photo editor, museum curator) who judged images taken by amateur photographers, eventually awarding the grand winner a contract with a national publication.
Like any good story, conflict is part of a brand narrative. John Deere's conundrum is how to sell new products when your old ones last forever. This conflict provided a great way to convey the brand's core benefit of quality... and a wonderful career opportunity to work alongside master storyteller Hal Riney, who tweaked my script and did the voiceover.
As a challenger brand, Sprint always challenged the way telephone providers were doing things. This is one in a series of hardworking retail ads, featuring Sela Ward, that strike a balance between selling hard and rewarding the viewer with something entertaining to watch. The campaign earned a higher response than anything done to date.
Tired of starting with a blank canvas for every radio spot, Scotts wanted an ownable way to deliver all the functional benefits for all their different products over the full season of lawn care. So I came up with a fictional "Lawn Desk" which, in a parody of government-issued bulletins, reported critical horticultural information with an inflated sense of urgency and a slightly twisted logic.
It also gave us a format that spawned two spots a week for over two years.
I am not a vendor. I am a collaborator. I want to get my hands on your brand and make it famous. Which means I will get into your strategy... refine it, focus it, crystallize it. I will get into your messaging... make it provocative, compelling, consistent. Then, unlike a lot of people who will sell you a POV, I'll produce what I create... elegantly, powerfully, beautifully. While all along making sure you understand every decision is made with the health, power and reach of your brand in mind.
Feel free to connect. A conversation costs nothing. Here's my info:
[email protected] 914.980.0039
Lots of corporate. Lots of financial. Lots of telecommunications. Lots of food industry. Lots of package goods. Lots of home and garden. Lots of retail. Lots of biomedical. Some healthcare. Some hi tech. Some B2B. A bit of automotive. A bit of beverage. A bit of media.
This is about my faith. It's also about my writing. Most of all, it's about Jesus.
A lot of people dismiss Jesus because they believe things about him that just aren't true. Things they were taught... or heard secondhand... or read in a magazine article. So I created this blog: to help those people understand who the real Jesus is... by telling them who he is not.