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Category: Language

Davis ThinkingDavis Thinking } analysis and interpretation

Postcards from Peru: Adventures in Naming

Kelly L. Bray
Wednesday, May 30, 2012

On rare occasions, a name comes along that captures the essence of the target audience's primary characteristic. In the machismo world of South America, such a name exists in Horniman's Tea.

Postcards from Peru: Naming Gone so Wrong

Kelly L. Bray
Monday, May 21, 2012

I was delighted to see the flight attendants handing out snack packs, remembering the most delicious chocolate covered caramel on an earlier flight. Eagerly breaking the seal, I was met not only by the chocolate, but a most unfortunately named package of crackers.

Fashion and Feminism - Without the Fuss

Rachel L. Newman
Thursday, September 15, 2011

Kara Jesella's informed and insightful look at fashion and feminism and Tavi Gevinson's new online magazine, Rookie, are well worth the read.

Physics of Culture

Monday, July 25, 2011

Davis Brand Capital friend and collaborator Kevin Slavin spoke at TED Global this month about how algorithms are increasingly shaping our world. Think that doesn't concern you, your business or your life? Think again.

IP Lawyers Playing Chicken with Local Restauranteur?

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Intellectual property law fascinates me. The ambiguity and subjectivity involved in determining whether or not a trademark can be protected, or if it infringes on an existing mark, can make brand-naming projects painfully frustrating.

Books Unbound

Friday, August 27, 2010

There may be more bears in publishing than there are on Wall St. This isn’t new to the current recession; as Ken Auletta recently noted in the New Yorker, “publishing exists in a continual state of forecasting its own demise.” Now add to that traditional gloomy propensity today’s market conditions - a period when most industries are wrestling with digital disintermediation and even wholesale redefinitions of function. You get a complete meltdown.

Volvo's Thoughtful Brand Management Eclipsed by Latest Twilight Partnership

Friday, June 25, 2010

Even though I've beat up on Volvo before, on a personal level I'm a lifelong fan of their cars. On a professional level, I have profound respect for Volvo's clear, consistent brand management. That's why their new advertising partnership with "Twilight: Eclipse" is so painful to watch.

Don't Let Crowdsourced Editing Butcher Brand Voice

J. Kevin Ament
Wednesday, June 16, 2010

I know a high school English teacher who refuses to use red pen when editing her students' work. "It's like bloodletting, all that red ink on paper. It weakens writers," she says. So she bisects her students' sentences in blue, convinced the color, not the cutting itself, does the damage. Similarly, employees from cubicle to corner office play a "track-changes" version of pass-the-patient with nothing but the best intentions. More often than not, what starts as a second opinion leads to a few minor stitches for a split infinitive, then escalates to invasive surgery as personal styles and legal hedging trump purpose. At the end of the procedure, the writer's left with a Frankenstein's monster of crowdsourced pieces and parts that no longer effectively communicates or resembles anything remotely human.

Defining Reality – The Augmented Kind

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Last week, Santa Clara hosted the first global augmented reality event - gathering the developers, creative directors and engineers from around the world who are driving nascent “augmentation” technology into our immediate reality. If you said “Say what?” to that sentence, you will appreciate the following. In the first keynote of the conference, WIRED’s contributing editor Bruce Sterling defined a singular challenge for the assembled that had very little to do with technological wizardry and everything to do with communication: create and shape the language of this brave new world.

Will BP Clean Up Its Act After the Big Spill?

Monday, May 24, 2010

In 2007, I lauded BP's rebranding for its aesthetics and the company's willingness to position itself at the forefront of social and cultural debate. But I questioned its ability and willingness to "walk the walk" of its "beyond petroleum" talk. Sadly, the Gulf of Mexico spill will prove an excellent case study on the perils of disingenuous branding.

Sonos: A Tale of Woofers and Tweeters

Monday, May 3, 2010

We spend a lot of time with clients talking about different communication platforms, the best content for each and the approaches that certain media demand versus others. Trying, in other words, to help brands understand seamless communication paired with appropriate voice. But sometimes the best way to understand these different platforms is simply to experience them. I had a particularly elegant social media experience with Sonos recently that's worth sharing because it illustrates graceful, appropriate and effective use of a platform.

On Gum and Condoms

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

"Don't buy this gum. It tastes like rubber." is a favorite phrase for graffiti vandals to write on condom vending machines in men's rooms. I've seen it several times during roadside restroom breaks in various regions of the country, indicating either a well-traveled vandal with a tremendous lack of creativity or a graffitist meme of sorts. Oddly, the current campaign for Dentyne Ice gum draws a direct comparison between its product and prophylactics, highlighting the awkward moments associated with practicing safe sex and positioning the brand as prerequisite to getting it on.

IKEA's Four Letter Words

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

We're fans of IKEA and have written on their past marketing successes and brand missteps. The company captures our attention again by tackling an area of its business that, for many, leaves much to be desired: the assembly of its products.

Naughty Volvo Faces Identity Crisis

Monday, March 1, 2010

Tough times for automakers have turned the industry upside down. Household names like Oldsmobile, Pontiac, Saturn and Hummer have gone the way of the dodo. Saab narrowly avoided a similar fate with a last-minute purchase by Dutch super car manufacturer Spyker, a niche player that has intriguing plans for the quirky Swedish brand. Fiat and Chrysler became strange bedfellows. And Toyota is struggling through an historic, crippling recall. But one of the more interesting outcomes of the recent upheaval within the auto industry is Ford Motor Company's sale of Volvo to China's Geely.

Dove’s Men + Care Spot is No Beauty

Rachel Newman and Kristin Ament
Tuesday, February 9, 2010

We recently voiced optimism that the Super Bowl launch of Dove's Men+Care line would challenge the alpha male ad genre, just as its revolutionary Real Beauty spot from Super Bowl XL confronted unhealthy female beauty standards. On Sunday, our optimism swirled its sad little way down the drain.

New Axe Ad Campaign Reaches, Cleans a New Low

Sunday, January 17, 2010

First, Hardee's showed you its B-Hole. Then, Bud Light Lime gave it to you In the Can. Now Axe, with all the class and finesse we've come to expect from the brand, wants to Clean Your Balls. On the surface, this seems like nothing more than your typical nether regions marketing. But look under the hood, and Axe's down under approach has more in common with early marital aid advertising than beer and fast food.

UE's Most Read Posts of 2009

Unbound Edition's Editorial Team
Thursday, December 31, 2009

As the year ends, we look back at the most read and shared posts from Unbound Edition's contributors, and a few more favorites chosen by our editorial team. We appreciate your continued readership and commentary and look forward to more dialog in 2010.

Full or Meaningful?

Monday, November 30, 2009

Now that we've pushed back from the Thanksgiving table and returned to work, it's worth focusing a moment not on our abundance of blessings, but on our glut of content across platforms. These blessings are decidedly mixed. Faced with multiple options we graze and gorge on empty calories, but rarely succeed in satisfying our hunger.

Miracle Whip Finds Its Brand Voice

Friday, November 20, 2009

Back in June, Miracle Whip broadcasted its condiment manifesto to Gen Y. Punctuated with the official quivery chalkboard script of all advertising-spawned youth movements and set to a swaying, poly-ethnic crowd kickin’ it kiddie-pool style, a bored (yet defiant!) voice-over proclaims: “We are our own unique, one-of-a-kind flavor. We are Miracle Whip. And we will not tone it down.” Hmmm. A hipster decree from a 76-year-old sandwich spread most famous for its supporting role in my great aunt’s deviled eggs? The campaign was hard to swallow.

GAP Announces End of Recession

Monday, November 16, 2009

After years of disappointing design, quality and performance, GAP seems tapped into the American cultural pulse once again. The company's holiday advertising campaign announces that the country is "Ready for Holiday Cheer." Like many retailers, GAP is spending more and launching earlier this year, including a major Vanity Fair insert and back cover. Whether these efforts end up translating to sales, of course, remains to be seen. Still, the campaign does more than any other to date to declare a shift in attitude. Consumers will decide for themselves to celebrate in ways "modest" or "all out," but either way, GAP gives permission "to liberate" from the dark clouds of the past 18 months. A holiday declaration of independence -- "This holiday, it's up to us" -- makes the empowerment message abundantly clear: Yes, Virginia, there is an American spirit of hope, even joy, that will not be silenced. The recession is over.

Fun with Google: Autocomplete Revelations

Friday, November 13, 2009

Google's autocomplete search recommendations have spawned a new Internet meme. And before you keep reading, let me warn you: this post could rob you of your productivity today.

Post-Agency III: Naming Names

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

It seems a fait accompli, the death of agencies. I’ve made the case for the collapse of this industry business model several times over, and the Financial Times has recently detailed the challenges and the various players’ attempts to address them. It was, though, Nicholas Negroponte from MIT’s Media Lab who stated the issue plainly and first, a decade ago, saying that any organization that “describes itself as an ‘agency’ is doomed.” He was right, and the industry still has not taken on the fundamental question of the day: if not an “agency,” then what?

Members Only?

Manon Herzog and Kristen Jamski
Friday, September 11, 2009

No, we aren't referring to the 80s clothing line, rather we are referencing the mixed messages professional tennis is sending to the public. Both authors are tennis fanatics. However, despite our love of the game, as brand strategists we are baffled by the sport's inability to evolve, notwithstanding its stated intention to do so.

The Democrats' Ailing Propaganda Machine

Friday, August 21, 2009

Regardless of one's political affiliation, one thing is clear. Both sides of the aisle and their respective mouthpieces, as well as special interest groups, are leveraging public relations and other tools of persuasion to the best of their abilities in order to advance their sides of the health care story. However, as usual, the Republicans are winning the word war.

Refreshing “Refreshing”

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Pepsi is exhibiting some fresh bruises after recent media coverage of the company’s brain drain under Massimo d'Amore. When one considers Arnell’s leaked logo study and the lashing from the trades (and 20% freefall) over Tropicana’s repackaging, it’s hard to argue freshening up its brands netted PepsiCo any positives. Yet despite a flood of negative attention (much of it deserved), the most interesting aspects of the work have received the least attention. I may take my own lumps for this one, but I think the Pepsi brand has made some smart choices in its updated approach to communicating “refreshing.”

Hardee's is Holier Than Thou

Monday, July 20, 2009

Hardee's “Name Our Holes” campaign sure has lathered up the Internet. AdAge calls Hardee's out for "upping the ante in the fast-food smutfest," and Reuters dismisses the campaign as “obnoxious.” Which it is. But it is also hilarious. It's easy to see why some claim advertising has reached an all-time low, but isn't something else going on here?

Do You Speak Innovation?

Monday, July 20, 2009

Dog tired the other night after what seemed like endless work-related communication clarifications, I signed off with this tweet: “Done translating for the day…surfing all these lexicons is exhausting. Desperate for the Esperanto of changing times.” Within seconds I got a message: Esperanto is now following you. I had to laugh. So here’s the translation Esperanto: I am NOT interested in Esperanto (we’ll talk about the lack of context on Twitter later). What I AM interested in is the common language of change and innovation.

An Unspoken Language

Kimia M. Ansari
Thursday, June 25, 2009

Recently I re-connected with a friend on Facebook and got distracted by her photo albums. As I looked through the images I discovered something thought-provoking. Dorka Kheen collaborated with well-known artist Brian Goggin to create an art installation in San Francisco's historic literary district of North Beach. It is the first permanent solar-powered public art piece in the United States, and it’s an interesting take on the role and form of literature and language in our digital culture.

GM: Wrong Message, Medium, Moment (Just Being “Completely Honest”)

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

A fairly brilliant spoof of GM’s “re: invention” spot is making its way around the Net. It’s easy enough to make fun of GM from A to Z (A is for Aztec...B is for Buick...C is for Cimarron...), but this spoof points to something broader: a complete distrust of GM’s voice, message and methods. Any advertisement that begins with “let’s be completely honest” is setting itself up for mockery (and failure), especially in a networked world. Shame on IPG’s Deutsch and McCann agencies for letting that line make the spot, much less lead it.

Wool and the Gang is Fresh (So Fresh), Exciting

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Although I am a novice knitter, I have a yen for yarn. I love to go to knitting shops to peruse the different colors, textures and sizes of the skeins. I imagine myself a master at the craft, fashioning jaw-droppingly gorgeous and unique scarves, hats, gloves, socks and sweaters out of sustainably harvested, hand-dyed Peruvian wool. The reality of my current knitting ability limits me to monochrome scarves and fingerless hand warmers but, still. I can dream. The popularity of knitting, and crafting in general, has been on the rise for a few years, so it’s always cool to learn about knitting retailers that are taking a new and different approach to brand, aesthetic and voice. Enter the cleverly named Wool and the Gang.

The Element of Surprise: IKEA's Brand Experience

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Over the years, I’ve admired IKEA’s ability to consistently create unique experiences that engage consumers in unexpected ways. IKEA has a knack for showing rather than telling.

Senseless Place

Thursday, April 30, 2009

The tourism industry certainly is not immune to the challenges of the current economic environment. Yet a recent review of a study commissioned by The Ontario Government Ministry of Tourism shows that the industry is as much of a challenge to itself. Just as they did more than a decade ago (when I attended the Ecole Suisse de Tourisme), most destinations still focus on competing on the functional benefit of “quality.” Certainly, iconic buildings, a vibrant night scene or natural beauty are assets that indicate quality and add to the “must visit” factor of a destination. But those just add up to the price of entry for the tourism industry.

Forever Losing the Kodak Moment

J. Kevin Ament
Sunday, April 26, 2009

On July 30, 1993, the Missouri river’s Monarch Levee buckled, flooding Chesterfield Valley, Missouri. The rising waters quickly submerged a 10x30 public storage locker a few miles from the breach, drowning 15 years of my family’s accumulated artifacts. 15 years of photo albums. Within hours, our Kodak moments dissolved in a toxic bath of runoff and gasoline. Gone forever.

Re-Verb: Noisy Markets Demand a Brand Voice

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

As interesting and important as micro-blogging and other momentary, disposable bits of culture might be, I tend to be more interested in the larger patterns they can help reveal — not the chatter itself. Recently, the former has helped me tune into something intriguing: an emerging meme about brand voice.

Little Orphan Andy Drank His Ovaltine

J. Kristin Ament
Wednesday, April 8, 2009

If brand abuse was a crime, Ovaltine would be sporting unflattering horizontal prison stripes for a long, long time. The beloved chocolate drink, trusted by parents for nearly 100 years to get nutrition into kids, has squandered its positive reputation in a horrifying 41 seconds.

Hot Beef Rejection

J. Kristin Ament
Tuesday, March 31, 2009

So in the 70’s, marketers embraced the fact that sex can sell anything from shampoo to car batteries. And over the past several decades, we’ve been treated to an endless array of genetically altered babes and double entendres, so much so that we became numb to the obvious methods of product whoring. Those were good times, in retrospect, considering the skin-crawling fetishism of two current sandwich peddlers who have spoiled my appetite.

The Devil in the Details

J. Kevin Ament
Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Advertising Age’s Garrick Schmitt recently wrote that “Data Visualization Is Reinventing Online Storytelling.” He celebrates the brilliant New York Times/IBM Visualization Lab and others for “turning bits and bytes of data... into stories for our digital age.” Admittedly, the Times’ work is groundbreaking, and I applaud Many Eyes and other “visual scientists” for their valuable work in helping us see complex data in clear, useful ways. But storytelling it is not.

Voice Beyond Petulance

Monday, March 23, 2009

Peggy Noonan recently wrote an opinion piece in the WSJ detailing what she interpreted as the depression we are feeling as we sense “something slipping away, a world receding, not only an economic one but a world of old structures, old ways and assumptions.” I agree with her overarching sentiment – and know a lot of people who are anxious and depressed in the current environment, and for good reason. But holding a glass to the cultural wall and listening closely - pardon me Peggy, but the loudest voice I hear is petulance.

Pulling the Plug on Jerry Mathers

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Somebody call Eve Ensler, because it looks like the Vagina Monologues are becoming the Vagina Dialogues.

Unbound Edition, Rebound

J. Kevin Ament
Sunday, March 15, 2009

Welcome to the new Unbound Edition. For the past two years, our readers have made Unbound Edition one of the Web’s most read marketing news aggregators and blogs. Along the way, we have laughed with you, listened to you and learned from you. Thank you. Now, we are making some changes to serve you better and to take advantage of new technologies.

The Acceptance Speech

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

As the country winds down from the election night parties and the selection of Barack Obama as president-elect of the U.S., UE takes a trip through time to November 9, 1960. This video of the acceptance speech by President-elect John F. Kennedy is amazing not only in its historical significance, but also because the same speech could be given today.  Without the wire from Nixon, of course.

New Campaign Ethics: Do Everything

Mary M. Phelan
Monday, November 3, 2008

In 2007, a friend and retired international campaign consultant predicted this about the 2008 presidential campaign: “The Democrats will do anything to get elected.  But the Republicans will do everything to get elected.”  Indeed he was prescient, since we have since witnessed yet another sleazy Republican campaign, a tradition going back to Watergate and continuing on with the George W. Bush stolen election in 2000 and the swift boat ads against John Kerry in 2004.

Gov. Palin gets WAMPed: 2008’s Top 527s

J. Kevin Ament
Monday, October 27, 2008

After witnessing the successful swiftboating of Sen. Kerry in the 2004 election, many pundits anticipated a flurry of devastating 527 ads in 2008. Surprisingly, stricter regulation and admonition from both candidates have limited television play. The ads have not, however, disappeared completely. The most notable (and powerful) spots of 2008 linger online, and the liberal groups who produced and distributed them have learned from and improved upon the 527s of elections past.

Luntzing for Votes: A Few Favorite Buzzwords from Election 2008

J. Kevin Ament
Monday, October 20, 2008

While it’s too early to know for sure which words or phrases will go the distance, I offer for debate a few predictions of how word meaning may change as a result of 2008 political usage, as well as a couple phrases that will be ever-linked to Campaign ’08.

Reverse Your Psychology, Win an Election

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Hollywood is turning out in force, saying “don’t vote.” Because not voting is still a vote.

Is that Junk in Your Trunk? Lessons from the Antiques Roadshow

J. Kevin Ament
Thursday, October 2, 2008

My wife and I recently moved to Atlanta, purging in the process a quarter century of bric-a-brac to make room for our daughters’ plush menagerie and a growing empire of Disney princesses. I’ll muzzle the rant over sacrificing my memory-laden artifacts to their marketing-laden geegaws and turn to the catharsis brand we entrusted to haul away our history: 1-800-Got-Junk.

Levi’s Marketers: Trouser Snakes or Geniuses?

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Um, I’m no prude.  I’m all for edgy.  But Levi’s latest attempt to be relevant seems a little off the mark.

Seal of Obama: Parody Equals Power

R. Eric Raymond
Sunday, June 22, 2008

I’d like to offer an alternative interpretation of Barak Obama’s recent reinvention of the presidential seal.

Brand Obama Actually Makes a Change…for a Change

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Love him or hate him, Obama has finally put his campaign money where his mouth by opting out of the public campaign financing system.

Elasticity of Words Versus Lack of Neologistic Creativity

Jacco J. de Bruijn
Monday, June 9, 2008

Aren’t we all waiting for the next big thing, hoping to catch it first? Something new and exciting, to follow blindly and believe in religiously, and to brag about to people still unaware.  And in that sense, what is more novel than the next generation of new technologies such as the World Wide Web?

Scott McClellan Finally Talks When the Payoff is Big Enough

J. Kevin Ament
Wednesday, May 28, 2008

(Originally posted November 2007) Former White House Press Corps punching bag Scott McClellan cried victim yesterday, leaking excerpts from a new book confessing what most pundits and news junkies believed already: that as press secretary for President Bush, he lied to the media regarding the Valarie Plame leak investigation.

Why Barbasol Should Give Gillette a Spanking and Send Him to Bed

J. Kevin Ament
Friday, May 23, 2008

One of my earliest childhood memories is shuffling into my parents’ tiny bathroom at daybreak, mirrors fogged over with shower steam, to watch my father shave. He frequently ended this morning ritual by depositing a thick dollop of lemon-lime Barbasol on my nose.

Resolutions for Marketers in 2008 #1

R. Eric Raymond
Thursday, January 3, 2008

{self}Value both direct marketing and narrative marketing.{/self}

“Whudafxup” with the Double Standard?

Monday, June 11, 2007

The truth is I have to give the “Truth” campaign credit for attempting to speak the language of the IM generation.  But “Whudafxup” with the double standard?

Panino, Panini? Who Cares?

Thursday, May 3, 2007

Alright, I am about to step on really thin ice and will likely be accused of being just another snobby European. Here it goes: When will the linguistic globalization finally reach America? Did you know when you order a panini, you technically order a rolls? No, not a typo. Panini in Italian is plural for panino (a roll). I wish they charged you for rolls instead of one roll but they don’t know any better. Same with cappuccino. No, it’s not cappuccinos, Dio mio! See panino, and you will know the answer.

At Issue } essential reading

Innovative MIT Grad Teaches Human-Animal 'Talk'

Eva Cairns
Apr 11, 2014

Can people really communicate with animals in ways that most humans seldom contemplate? Hong Kong’s Thomas Cheng, founder of the Institute of Scientific Animal Communication (ISAC), teaches talk-to-animals techniques.

8 Simple Scientifically Proven Ways To Improve Your Writing

Belle Beth Cooper
Dec 18, 2013

How do you have the most impact online? Should your writing be short and sweet, or long and detailed?

English Has a New Preposition, Because Internet

Megan Garber
Nov 19, 2013

Linguists are recognizing the delightful evolution of the word "because."

Infecting An Audience: Why Great Stories Spread

Jonathan Gottschall
Oct 21, 2013

In his 1897 book What is Art? the great Russian novelist Leo Tolstoy defined art as “an infection.” Good art, Tolstoy wrote, infects the audience with the storyteller’s emotion and ideas.

Supreme Court Weighs When Online Speech Becomes an Illegal Threat

David Kravets
Sep 17, 2013

The Supreme Court is being asked to decide when an online threat becomes worthy of prosecution, in what could be the first internet speech case to reach the high court’s docket for the 2013-2104 term beginning next month.

The Secret To Great Storytelling

Nick Morgan
Aug 15, 2013

If you want to master great storytelling, you have to learn 3 essential lessons. All of them are contained in a wonderful TED talk by Carmen Agra Deedy about her mother, driving, and a universal insight.

Y’all Vs. You All: Mapping The Linguistic Peculiarities Of American English

Zak Stone
Jun 6, 2013

These heat maps of the U.S. break down how people use language and pronounce words differently in different parts of the country: Soda vs. pop, sub vs. hero, water fountain vs. … bubbler?

Being Digital Demands You Be More Human

John Winsor
Jun 6, 2013

The ability to reach out, in a human way, to a Sara or Harry can quickly create either positive or negative momentum for your brand. That makes human interaction more important than ever.

Brands With A Voice

Jim Joseph
May 1, 2013

This means that brands are suddenly jumping into intense conversations with a real point of view, on issues that could be seen as quite controversial. All this for what feels like the first time ever!

Are Negative Twitter Messages Contagious?

Adam Popescu
Apr 26, 2013

Does a negative post on Twitter have infectious germs powerful enough to influence the behavior of tweeters? Maybe. Then again, maybe not.

Brands Should Get Consumers To Speak Their Language

John Nugent
Apr 17, 2013

We explored a couple of notable brands that have a language all their own and how they use it to define the space for their customers.

3 Hilarious Ideas for Google Users

Matt Petronzio
Mar 22, 2013

There's no doubt that Google remains the world's most popular search engine, but are you using it to its full potential?

Coming Soon: A Monotype Exhibit Tracing The Roots Of Modern Typography

Kelsey Campbell-Dollaghan
Mar 18, 2013

The show will be “a chance for visitors to explore the very physical history of the typefaces they already know,” says Monotype’s Type Director Dan Rhatigan.

The Weird Thing About Facebook: Status Updates are the Most Memorable Writing You Do

Jennifer Miller
Feb 28, 2013

Three months from now, nobody will remember what you wrote in that email, but they’ll definitely recall your status update about your cat.

The Three Basic Secrets of All Successful Presentations

Carmine Gallo
Feb 22, 2013

Stanford invites “pioneers in the field of communication” to share their insights and to coach business students in the art and science of persuasion, pitching, communication, and presentation skills.

Communication's Biggest Secret: Knowing When To Keep Your Mouth Closed

Cheryl Conner
Jan 8, 2013

Many times, the ability to remain silent is the best communication strength you could have. When is silence not good?

Why Good Writing Is Essential For Business

Christa Carone
Nov 21, 2012

There are many vehicles, outlets, and opportunities for great brand storytelling. To make the best use of them, companies need writers who understand narrative, style, and voice. And to do that, they need to support the good writers they employ and foster the development of good writing skills among others.

Need Branding That Transcends Cultures? Invent Your Own Language

Kelsey Campbell-Dollaghan
Nov 9, 2012

A thoughtful identity gives a multinational disease research network a new way to communicate.

Better Copy Thanks to George Orwell

Phil Pinn
Oct 31, 2012

What could we learn from the masters of English about great communications? Is there a set of rules we could apply?

Grammar Grows Up

Ken Makovsky
Aug 21, 2012

We received a reprieve most of the time in colloquial English, but never in written English. Splitting infinitives is not just forgivable; it is, in fact, “a sacred duty.” Especially when not splitting the infinitive clouds the meaning of your communications.

How Language Shapes Your Organization

Kevin Allen
Jul 24, 2012

In the race to find culpability, what doesn't get talked about is the very climate that creates the conditions for people to behave badly and feel perfectly justified in their behavior. It is, in fact, the very same thing that creates an environment and provides the fuel for people to conversely do great, generous and far-reaching things. It boils down to cultural permission.

How Innovation Is More Poetry Than Science

Daniel W. Rasmus
Jul 19, 2012

Our future is as much threatened by the lack of imaginative connection making as it is from a dearth of engineers or mathematicians. Here are practical lessons from 35 years of writing poetry that can help individuals and teams deliver more innovative products, processes and services.

Yes, College Essays Are Ruining Our Economy

David Silverman
Jul 12, 2012

Some view it as a scandal that the CEO of J.P. Morgan "knew" about the risky trades long ago. Or that the Bush administration knew "Bin Laden Determined to Strike in U.S.." Or that the average cell phone customer can know when they're roaming, and yet still be surprised by the data charges from vacation, whether it's $100 to upload a photo to Facebook, or $62,000 for downloading Wall-E. What is rarely mentioned is the amount of information that lands on the desk of a CEO or a President, or every single one of us, every day.

Leading in an Age of Decreased Face-to-face Communication

George Bradt
Jul 3, 2012

A monumental question for leaders in any organization to consider is: How much greatness are we willing to grant people? Because it makes all the difference at every level who it is we decide we are leading. The activity of leadership is not limited to conductors, presidents, and CEOs, of course — the player who energizes the orchestra by communicating his newfound appreciation for the tasks of the conductor, or a parent who fashions in her own mind that her children desire to contribute, is exercising leadership of the most profound kind.

Innovation Advice Inspired by a Children's Magazine

Scott Anthony
Jul 3, 2012

A seminal memory of childhood for many Americans of my age was the arrival of the magazine Highlights for Children every month. The magazine was chock full of goodness, but my favorite part was the Goofus & Gallant cartoon. For those who didn't have the pleasure of reading the magazine, the cartoon taught life lessons through contrasts. Not surprisingly, Gallant was always polite, did his chores, and thought things through, whereas Goofus wasn't polite, didn't do his chores, and definitely didn't think things through.

How to Be Your Own PR Agency When the Media Calls

Glenn Llopis
Jul 2, 2012

Today’s fast, furious and instantaneous news cycles allow leaders the opportunity to become active in media conversations and get discovered on a moment’s notice. As such, you must become more informed about the news that impacts your voice both directly and indirectly. Whether it’s a Twitter hashtag discussion, LinkedIn or Facebook group conversation, your local news, blog or national news story, you must be prepared to address the issues in a succinct and objective manner.

Jumping the Olympic® shark

Seth Godin
Jun 22, 2012

When a brand becomes a bully, it loses something vital. So much money, so many egos and so many governments are involved in the Olympics now (and they have so little competition) that it has become a sterling example of what happens when you let greed and lawyers run amok over common sense and generosity.

PepsiCo Creates Chief Design Officer Role

Natalie Zmuda
Jun 11, 2012

PepsiCo has tapped Mauro Porcini, 3M's longtime design guru, as its first chief design officer. Mr. Porcini will be charged with creating a culture of design at PepsiCo as well as globally managing design for a variety of key food and beverage brands. His reach will extend from package design to advertising, industrial design and digital experiences.

Coffee Chain Prints The Daily News On Their Beverages Sleeves

Lamya Hussain
Jun 8, 2012

Canadian franchise Tim Horton is pairing fresh coffee with fresh news in the UAE. Recognizing the parallels between news and coffee, Y&R Dubai adapted Tim Hortons’ coffee cup sleeves turning them into an advertising medium for Gulf News.

Hertz Learns Value of Sharing in Purchase Cycle

Noreen O'Leary
May 31, 2012

Travel is an experience people like to discuss with their friends as they share the details of where they’re going and how they’ll get there. Hertz knew customers’ social activity and conversations were impacting purchase decisions but the company didn’t know how much until now.

Bad Tech Etiquette To Avoid at Work

Angie Reed
May 29, 2012

Technology has simplified communications for most businesses, but the increased use of conference calls, video conferencing, and instant messaging has created a new list of off-putting behaviors that could land your business in an awkward situation. Here is a list of some pet peeves and how to avoid them.

Pink Noise Minimizes Workplace Distractions & Complaints

Yi Chen
May 23, 2012

With more companies preferring an open space layout, this has led to rising complaints of office noise and the lack of privacy for informal chats. Software company Autodesk has come up with a solution that tackles the issues.

CEOs Get(ting) Social, Per IBM Study Data divides top execs from the rest

Tim Peterson
May 22, 2012

The hierarchy of customer interaction methods starts with face-to-face, followed by websites, channel partners, call centers, traditional media, advisory groups and finally, social media. That won’t be the case in a few years. According to an IBM survey of 1,709 CEOs from 64 countries and 18 industries, social media will leap to the number-two spot while traditional media plunges to the bottom within the next three-to-five years.

Yesterday The Boston Globe ended all your tomorrows

Justin Ellis
May 2, 2012

In adjusting its style guide to use calendar days instead of “yesterday,” “today,” or “tomorrow,” the Globe is trying to adapt to the pace of online news.

The Flight From Conversation

Sherry Turkle
Apr 23, 2012

In the silence of connection, people are comforted by being in touch with a lot of people — carefully kept at bay. We can’t get enough of one another if we can use technology to keep one another at distances we can control: not too close, not too far, just right.

CMOs Must Be Linguists to Survive and Thrive

Bryan Thomas
Mar 15, 2012

The role of business linguist for the CMO is probably one of the more challenging aspects of the job. Translating marketing value and priority to other areas of the corporate enterprise, if done ineffectively or ignored, can lead to disaster.

Is Your Product Name Turning People Off?

Dorie Clark
Feb 13, 2012

Every company wants customers talking about their products. But before they can sing your praises on social media or evangelize to their friends, they need to remember your product’s name. It seems obvious, but many companies – especially in the technology sector – overlook this easy way to connect with their audience.

Where Did That Sentence-Ending Preposition Rule Come From?

Andy Bowers
Feb 6, 2012

We all learned you’re not supposed to end a sentence with a preposition. But from where did this alleged rule come? And why does it encumber us with such labored sentences as the one preceding this?

Learn From Adele – Build Your Platform

Chris Brogan
Feb 3, 2012

Jacq and I just watched Adele Live At The Royal Albert Hall (amazon affiliate link), and though every song was just wonderfully done, I found myself fascinated by what Adele was doing in between each song. Because even though most people would be interested in hearing her belt out her amazing repertoire of hits, what I took away from the performance was Adele’s real magical ability: the ability to resonate with her audience.

6 Steps for Protecting Corporate Reputation in the Social Media Age

Layla Revis
Jan 3, 2012

It takes years to build a good reputation, but seconds to damage it beyond repair, as executives at companies from Dell to Domino’s certainly have found out. This was a sentiment echoed by executives at the Senior Corporate Communication Management Conference in New York when discussing social media and corporate reputation and how to embrace the new reality of immediate communications.

Levi's Creates Unified Voice, E-commerce Success

Karl Greenberg
Nov 22, 2011

How do you make a decentralized global apparel company without a single, cohesive voice around the world, no e-commerce, and a lagging digital presence into a unified global brand with a vibrant digital, social and e-commerce strategy, with eight million Facebook fans, dwarfing any other jeans marketer and e-commerce growing 40% per year?

The 7 Iconic, Transparent, Empowering Business Buzzwords That Need To Die

Tim Phillips
Oct 28, 2011

When I started writing a blog to support my book, Talk Normal: Stop the Business Speak, Jargon, and Waffle, I had an inkling that many of the words I loathed were common in the offices where I was working. But this could be an illusion: once we’re bothered by something, we tend to notice it more. So it could be that the business buzzwords that make me cranky are no more significant than the guy who bumps my chair when he walks past--which, on second thought, isn’t a big deal, he’s been doing it for years. Not so, it seems.

Netflix VP: Why We Moved "Too Fast," And Why "We Were Wrong" On Qwikster

Austin Carr
Oct 13, 2011

Last month, CEO Reed Hastings announced that the company's DVD and streaming businesses would be split: The DVD-by-mail service would be rebranded as Qwikster, while the streaming service would remain under Netflix. Consumer reaction was overwhelmingly negative, just as it had been for the company's recent price hikes. Many found the announcement confusing (customers would now have to deal with separate websites, usernames and passwords, movie queues, credit card bills, and ratings systems), and senior Netflix execs came out to reaffirm the decision, calling it a "natural progression" and part of a "long-term marketing opportunity."

Steve Jobs's Legacy: Design Your Own Life

Nilofer Merchant
Oct 6, 2011

While there are many things worth celebrating of Steve Jobs's life, the greatest gift Steve gave us is a way to design our own lives.

The Elusive Big Idea

Neal Gabler
Aug 15, 2011

The July/August issue of The Atlantic trumpets the “14 Biggest Ideas of the Year.” Take a deep breath. The ideas include “The Players Own the Game” (No. 12), “Wall Street: Same as it Ever Was” (No. 6), “Nothing Stays Secret” (No. 2), and the very biggest idea of the year, “The Rise of the Middle Class — Just Not Ours,” which refers to growing economies in Brazil, Russia, India and China. Now exhale. It may strike you that none of these ideas seem particularly breathtaking. In fact, none of them are ideas. They are more on the order of observations. But one can’t really fault The Atlantic for mistaking commonplaces for intellectual vision. Ideas just aren’t what they used to be.

Speak Up If You Have A Brand Voice

Dean Crutchfield
Jul 26, 2011

Strolling along 42nd Street I overheard a mischievous, baseless and ill-informed comment by a millennial to his friend, “There is no such thing as voice or text or music or TV shows – they’re all just data.” He’s right, but our need for words is ancient, and a powerful brand voice can make us question everything we think and do.

The Lack of Cultural Intelligence is Damaging Our Enterprises and Our Economy

Glenn Llopis
May 31, 2011

More and more leaders are scared for their business. Not because their products and services are not innovative or relevant, but because they just don’t connect naturally with the changing face of America’s consumers.

Do You Have a Mission Statement, or Are You on a Mission?

Dan Pallotta
Feb 1, 2011

There's a clothing drop box down the street that says, "The American Red Cross of Massachusetts is a humanitarian organization, led by volunteers, that provides relief to victims of disasters and helps people prevent, prepare for, and respond to emergencies." Good enough, so far. But adjacent to those words, in a font four times the size, and in bold, mind you, are the words, "Mission Statement." Which made me wonder, is this Red Cross's mission, or its mission statement?

In 500 Billion Words, New Window on Culture

Patricia Cohen
Dec 17, 2010

With little fanfare, Google has made a mammoth database culled from nearly 5.2 million digitized books available to the public for free downloads and online searches, opening a new landscape of possibilities for research and education in the humanities. The digital storehouse, which comprises words and short phrases as well as a year-by-year count of how often they appear, represents the first time a data set of this magnitude and searching tools are at the disposal of Ph.D.’s, middle school students and anyone else who likes to spend time in front of a small screen.

For Start-Ups, the Ultimate Goal: Becoming a Verb

Nick Bilton
Dec 3, 2010

When starting a new Web site or Internet service, most technologists are aiming to sell to a larger company or gain hundreds of millions of users. But for some there is an even bigger glory than cash: their company name becomes a verb.

Mr. Peanut’s New Look? Old School

Stuart Elliott
Nov 8, 2010

On Madison Avenue, there are talking dogs, talking horses, even talking margarine tubs, not to mention talking brand characters like the E*Trade babies and the Keebler elves. But Mr. Peanut, the dapper Planters mascot since 1916, has never spoken — until now.

Automated Lines' Softer Tone

Joe Light
Nov 2, 2010

After forcing callers into automated customer-service lines, some companies are trying to sweeten the experience—by making the recorded voices less annoying.

Brand Naming That Says Too Much: HP Slate 500 Tablet PC

William Lozito
Oct 26, 2010

The HP Slate has been announced and the blogosphere seems to be a little confused, not least because many of us thought this was never going to see the light of day.

Become The Consumer

Elisa Steele
Oct 11, 2010

Just for a moment, I'd like everyone to take off their advertising hat and become a consumer, with passions, needs and preferences. Think about a brand which you feel a particular connection with, one that helps you fill a need in your life. Not only that, it has to be one that has stood out from the competition because of the creative messaging used to promote it so that it connected with you emotionally. In fact, you feel so strongly about this brand that you rave about it to your friends and family, because you want to share that feeling with them. These concepts are common to all consumers -- relevance, creativity, and a shared experience -- encompass core elements of storytelling.

Web 2.0: A Natural Evolution?

Haydn Shaughnessy
Sep 22, 2010

Could Web 2.0 be grounded in nature? Our new research shows that Web users are increasingly conceptualizing the online world and new technology — social networks, mobile phones, and even whole businesses — as ecosystems.

It's Time To Get Engaged With Content

Len Stein
Aug 27, 2010

The growing dominance of social media compels marketers to abandon their old hard sell in favor of a content-driven marketing conversation that can facilitate meaningful brand relationships with customers and prospects. In this challenging environment, content is a key tool to fostering relationships, but publishing a blog, creating a Facebook fan page or launching a Twitter feed is only the beginning of a strategic content marketing program. Content marketing differs from traditional methods that employ interruption techniques in the belief that delivering helpful, relevant information drives profitable consumer action. The idea of sharing content is increasingly driving marketers to make proprietary intellectual assets available to influential audiences. Savvy content marketers create fresh information to share via all available media channels, on and off-line.

How Social Media Is Helping Public-Relations Sector Not Just Survive, but Thrive

Michael Bush
Aug 23, 2010

In 2009 Katie O'Brien was looking for an agency partner to help her launch a major digital effort. The global digital marketing manager at Ben & Jerry's issued a brief to a traditional digital shop and a traditional PR agency, Edelman. The plans they brought back were, in Ms. O'Brien's own words, "night and day." The biggest difference, she said, was that one understood social media better than the other -- and it wasn't the digital agency.

How Our Brains are Wired to Read

Gord Hotchkiss
Aug 20, 2010

How do we read? How do we take the arbitrary, human-made code that is the written word and translate it into thoughts and images that mean something to our brain, an organ that had its basic wiring designed thousands of generations before the appearance of the first written word? What is going on in your skull right now as your eyes scan the black squiggly lines that make up this column?

Reseeding the Economy

Umair Haque
Aug 11, 2010

It's 2010, and we still don't know how to describe the archetypal magnates of the next economy. We don't have a word for it, so we resort to awkward neologisms, like "information entrepreneur" or "green mogul." It's as if we're still not quite sure just what kinds of "capital" tomorrow's tycoons will be "ists" of. What are the kernels of tomorrow's prosperity?

Media Companies Must Divide To Conquer

Steve Rubel
Aug 11, 2010

The media is something that for most, if not all, of our adult lives, we have taken for granted. Media giants form the terra firma of the marketing industry, both its paid and earned disciplines. They provide the lifeblood of services and bring us the audiences we need to do our jobs. However, underneath it all, the harsh reality is that there's a new digital dynamic present today. This will mean that many media companies divide themselves into dozens of smaller independent operating companies if they wish to survive. Many won't.

A Better Creative Brief For The Post Digital Age

Gareth Kay
Aug 10, 2010

A recent post by Gareth Kay (of Goodby’s Brand Strategy discipline) turned our attention to a presentation he made at Boulder Digital Works on crafting a creative brief for the post-digital age. Kay begins by taking a (somehow comical) look at creative brief templates of yore (1992), which mostly all addressed a very common set of elements: a problem to be solved by advertising, consumers to ‘target’, a message to tell them, reasons to believe, and tone of voice. Needless to say that there is a continually expanding set of technology devices and platforms – and respective user interfaces – available in our current culture: from mobile to social media, to desktop and mobile video and others. Their impact includes facilitating a more participatory culture, making us more social, contributing to a more fragmented media landscape and leaving us ‘always on’ and conscious/communicative of our location; these factors need to be considered within an informed creative brief.

Media Isn't Social

David Armano
Aug 4, 2010

You see, businesses, brands and organizations are truly struggling with the disruptive nature of social technologies. In fact, the term "social technologies" is part of the problem—we are all fixated on the technologies and meanwhile the real action lies in harnessing the change brought about by human behavior enabled by technology. I used the simple story of how a colleague shared a book with me. The book itself (media) is not social—the interactions, communications, stories and conversations that involve the book are.

A Conversation About True Leaders and Leadership

Colin Goedecke
Aug 2, 2010

If you look at the world today, it’s devoid of enough true leaders. We used to have so many. This troubles me. What has happened? Is it because people don’t want to step up to the higher responsibilities of leadership, or don’t know how to be great leaders?

Hayward Defends Tenure, BP's Spill Response

Monica Langley
Jul 30, 2010

Tony Hayward, the departing chief executive of BP PLC, is unrepentant about how the energy giant responded to the U.S.'s largest offshore oil spill. In his first interview after agreeing to step down from the top spot this week, Mr. Hayward said he did everything possible once the Deepwater Horizon rig exploded and sank in the Gulf of Mexico, by taking responsibility for the spill, and spending billions of dollars to stop the spewing oil and clean up the shoreline.

The Joy Luck Club Method to Brand Strategy

Denise Lee Yohn
Jul 16, 2010

I’ve finally gotten around to reading “The Opposite of Fate: A Book of Musings,” a book released quite awhile ago by Amy Tan, the author of best-selling novels like The Joy Luck Club and The Kitchen God’s Wife. Tan includes many insights about story-telling and communication in general which I believe can be applied to developing brand strategies. One of such “musings” is “Five Writing Tips” — an edited version of a speech given as a commencement address at Simmons College, in Boston, in 2003. Although her remarks were intended to inspire a new generation to write and think differently, I found they also provide helpful guidelines for creating brand strategy.

Abbreviated Meaning

Jonathan Salem Baskin
Jul 15, 2010

When did brevity become a synonym for clarity or truth? For most of human history, it was the exact opposite. What was brief was least important, as usually the format of a statement dictated the attention it deserved. Shortness was equated with incompleteness, which meant that things communicated quickly were more suspect and were considered less trustworthy (a rapid-fire sales pitch or the unknown threat of someone "of few words" being two examples). The common bias was that brevity could be the same as stupidity.

The Hazards and Rewards of Rebranding by Abbreviation, from BP to the Y

Gardiner Morse
Jul 15, 2010

Two venerable brands have recently sidelined their names in favor of initials. National Public Radio now wants to be known as "NPR" while the Young Men's Christian Association — the YMCA — has abbreviated its abbreviation to, simply, "The Y." But aren't "NPR" and "The Y" already de facto brand names?

Not Just a Fun Place To Stay: 'Y' Rebrands

Aaron Baar
Jul 13, 2010

Designing a new brand platform for a 160-year-old organization is no easy task, particularly when that organization is as diverse and well-known as the YMCA. The new brand platform involved a two-year development process that looked to reflect the character of the more than 2,600 individual "Y" organizations around the country.

How Hanes & Dyson Are Winning By Naming The Problems They Solve

Rohit Bhargava
Jun 22, 2010

Getability is simply how easy an idea is for someone to immediately understand without a whole lot of explanation needed. When your marketing has getability, it means that it is simple, clear and memorable. This matters for good reason. Marketing that is complex or confusing rarely works. To help their getability, two brands in particular are using a technique that may be worth considering when promoting your product or service ... they are giving an ownable name to the problem they solve. The recent marketing from Dyson around their new Air Multiplier fan is one great example.

Saving Chevrolet Means Sending ‘Chevy’ to Dump

Richard S. Chang
Jun 10, 2010

On Tuesday, G.M. sent a memo to Chevrolet employees at its Detroit headquarters, promoting the importance of “consistency” for the brand, which was the nation’s best-selling line of cars and trucks for more than half a century after World War II. And one way to present a consistent brand message, the memo suggested, is to stop saying “Chevy,” though the word is one of the world’s best-known, longest-lived product nicknames.

History for Dollars

David Brooks
Jun 9, 2010

Studying the humanities will give you a familiarity with the language of emotion. In an information economy, many people have the ability to produce a technical innovation: a new MP3 player. Very few people have the ability to create a great brand: the iPod. Branding involves the location and arousal of affection, and you can’t do it unless you are conversant in the language of romance.

18 Ways to Walk the Talk on Content

Valeria Maltoni
Jun 8, 2010

A couple of days ago I wrote a post about exposure and visibility and how quality content that is valuable takes time to create. Everyone agrees with that sentiment. However, when push comes to shove, with very few exceptions, people tend to spread content that is more popular -- even when popularity means less helpful, sometimes incomplete. The ability to think critically is a gift -- it's also the underpinning of an effective business strategy, where you work from your core competencies. I worry that much of that ability gets lost to the desire to fit in and become popular -- to make the quick list, in blog parlance.

Too Many Brands Make Hollow Claims

Brad VanAuken
Jun 2, 2010

Is quality important? Yes. Is Innovation important? Absolutely. Is service important? Of course. Is it desirable to be the industry leader? Sure. However, in more and more categories, as I perform brand audits, I find that large numbers of companies in many categories make these claims, so much so that the claims have become hollow.

Give The Brand A Personality

Len Stein
May 27, 2010

With the meaning of a brand wide open to public interpretation and prone to hyperbole and misconception, corporate managers must thread a thicket of sticky challenges to successfully communicate brand mission, values and philosophy. Moreover, as brands become the publishers of their own unfolding stories, they need intelligent editors who can provide stakeholders with a stream of high-value content that is packed with utility, seeded with inspiration, and that is honestly empathetic. Anything less will not suffice in a world where consumers can simply click away or spin around and mount a web-wide counter-attack on brands that refuse to walk their talk.

Our Measurement Problem Begins With Definitions

Jonathan Salem Baskin
May 18, 2010

What's a brand? You realize that no two people, let alone two marketers, agree on the answer. It's a word, a metaphor, an analogy, a concept or some sort of thing with an existence and personality dependent on whomever is doing the defining, where they're doing it, and what they hope to accomplish.


Clinton Duncan
May 18, 2010

Brand Australia was conceived by the Federal Government of Australia as a four-year program to position Australia internationally as not just a pleasant place to holiday, barbeque shrimp and wrestle crocodiles, but also a nice enough place to perhaps invest a few dollars. And that’s the key to understanding the place this brand is intended to take; it does not replace the tourism brand created by FutureBrand, rather it sits above it as the overarching brand for global citizenship, culture, business and investment. Confusingly, that same tourism brand created by FutureBrand had been in use as the business to business brand under license by Austrade — the government agency responsible for promoting Australia and Australian businesses overseas. Therefore, it’s a before and after, whilst not being a before and after. Still with me?

Confusing *a* Public with *the* Public

Jeff Jarvis
May 9, 2010

I think Facebook’s problem lately with its disliked like button (and Google’s problem with the start of Buzz) is that they confuse the notion of the public sphere—that is, all of us—with the idea of making a public—that is, the small societies we create on Facebook or join on Twitter. Private v. public is not a binary decision; there is a vast middle in between that is about the control of our own publics. Allow me to explain….

Lessons in Brand and Social Media Storytelling

Michael Margolis
May 4, 2010

Our tastes have expanded. Not just with food, but how we consume information, relationships, and experiences. Our expectations are on the rise. Social media storytelling is changing things. We demand communication that doesn’t insult our intelligence. Our instincts tell us we’re better than this. And so increasingly we opt-out, filter, and turn off the noise. We have settings for that. The message better be worthy of our attention.

Forget Your Elevator Pitch — What's Your Dumbwaiter Pitch?

Umair Haque
Apr 20, 2010

So you've got an elevator pitch — a short, pithy description of why your business is special, exciting, and unique. Yawn. Today, elevator pitches are the economic equivalent of speeches at a beauty pageant: predictable, often vapid, always bland. Here's a suggestion. Try a Dumbwaiter Pitch instead. It's an exercise I often do with startups, giant corporations, social entrepreneurs, and investors. Its goal? To strip an organization right down to its bones, and see how compelling it really is.

Do Network Effects Span Geographies?

Fred Wilson
Apr 2, 2010

Three years ago most western european countries had a local social network that was the most popular social net in the country. Today Facebook is dominant in most of western europe and those local social nets have largely been bypassed. It would seem that Facebook leveraged the size of its network (approaching 500mm people worldwide) to beat its competition in social networking. But what's interesting to me about that is that it also means that it leveraged a network that was larger out of country to beat an incumbent who initially was larger in country.

Fill in the Holes in the Consumer's Mind

Al Ries
Apr 2, 2010

There's the key and the lock. The bolt and the nut. The button and the button hole. So, too, there's the position and the hole in the mind the position is trying to fill. Except, of course, many marketers seem to have forgotten about those holes in the mind. Which is strange. If there is one constant in the communications chatter about the marketing function it's this one: The consumer owns the brand. True enough. But where in the world is the consumer going to put the brand except in his or her mind?

The Mystery of Capitalism

Grant McCracken
Mar 30, 2010

I am always surprised that no one much bothers to tell the story of capitalism. No, the stories we prefer to tell our children is that capitalism is a dangerous, soulless, relentlessly exploitative exercise. Indeed, this story is so preferred as our received wisdom, that it is exceedingly rare to hear anyone recite Adam Smith’s magical insight, that good things can and do come from people pursuing their own, sometimes narrow, objectives.

Trust Busting

Virginia Heffernan
Mar 28, 2010

A company shows anxiety on its face — that is, on its Web site, which has become the face of the modern corporation. Visit sites for recently troubled or confused enterprises, including Maclaren, Toyota, Playtex, Tylenol and, yes, John Edwards, and you’ll find a range of digital ways of dealing with distress.

Leaders are Hard to Beat: Coke Zero vs. Pepsi Max

David Taylor
Mar 25, 2010

Coke Zero was launched in 2006 with the ambition of being as big as Diet Coke in 10 years. I posted back in 2006 asking questions about the rationale for Coke Zero and how successful it would be. Well, 4 years into that 10 year journey, and the status is (mkt share 4 weeks to 26 Dec 09): Coke Zero: 2.2% share, lowest share since launch Diet Coke: 26.8% share, +1%pt So, why is Coke having such a hard time?

Texts Without Context

Michiko Kakutani
Mar 18, 2010

In his deliberately provocative — and deeply nihilistic — new book, “Reality Hunger,” the onetime novelist David Shields asserts that fiction “has never seemed less central to the culture’s sense of itself.” He says he’s “bored by out-and-out fabrication, by myself and others; bored by invented plots and invented characters” and much more interested in confession and “reality-based art.” His own book can be taken as Exhibit A in what he calls “recombinant” or appropriation art.

How Brands Should Appeal To Women

Bob Deutsch
Mar 15, 2010

In my work as a cognitive anthropologist I study how the mind works, how people "make meaning," how people form attachments to things (brands), and how people make decisions. Decisions like how to select what to invest in, whether stocks or mates; why and under what conditions, people prefer Coke over Pepsi (or vice versa), Charmin over Cottonelle; why a person believes in one God over another. In that search I have inadvertently uncovered something about viva la difference: WOMEN CYCLE, MEN CONSUMMATE.

The Verb Treatment for an Investment House

Stuart Elliot
Mar 15, 2010

Computer users searching online for information say they are “Googling.” Commercials running in states like Michigan and Ohio suggest that shoppers go “Krogering.” But what will investors make of a campaign that proposes they start “Vanguarding”? The campaign, scheduled to begin this week, turns the Vanguard brand name into a verb, the better to help potential customers remember the company’s mutual funds and other investment products.

How to Kill Innovation: Keep Asking Questions

Scott Anthony
Feb 25, 2010

I had an epiphany recently. The setting: a multi-billion dollar global giant. The topic of discussion: innovation. My epiphany: A simple two-word phrase that can hamstring innovation. What about...

How Can We Cope With Information Overload?

Steve Mollman
Feb 4, 2010

Feeling overwhelmed by the sheer volume of online content? You're not alone. Keeping up to speed can be nearly impossible these days, with potentially hundreds or even thousands of daily postings competing for your attention from services like Facebook, Twitter, and RSS feeds. If you worry you're missing interesting content, it's probably because you are.

Four Ways To Create Intangible Value

Norm Smallwood
Feb 4, 2010

Several years ago, my colleague Dave Ulrich and I looked at how leaders build value by building employee confidence in the future. Our findings bear revisiting as companies begin to emerge after the devastation of the last 18 months and work to create new value.

Toyota Sends In Jim Lentz For Cross-Media Damage Control

Rich Thomaselli
Feb 1, 2010

The mea culpa and brand-saving by Toyota Motor Corp. began today, as the embattled carmaker launched a public relations defensive on all fronts -- print, TV and social-media networks -- in a bid to salvage its image in the wake of the 2.3 million vehicle recall.

For the Love of Culture

Lawrence Lessig
Jan 29, 2010

Documentary films could have been created the way books were, with writers using clips the way historians use quotations (that is, with no permission at all). And likewise, books could have been created differently: with each quotation licensed by the original author, with the promise to use the quote only according to the terms of a license. All books could thus be today as documentary films are today--inaccessible. Or all documentary films today could be as almost all books are today--accessible. But it is the accident of our cultural history, created by lawyers not thinking about, as Duke law professor Jamie Boyle puts it, the “cultural environmental consequences” of their contracts, that we can always legally read, even if we cannot legally watch. In this contrast between books and documentaries, there is a warning about our future. What are the rules that will govern culture for the next hundred years? Are we building an ecology of access that demands a lawyer at every turn of the page? Or have we learned something from the mess of the documentary-film past, and will we create instead an ecology of access that assures copyright owners the incentive they need, while also guaranteeing culture a future?

Apple's Tablet and the Future of Literature

Jan 27, 2010

Literature has always relied on technology. We wouldn't have the Dead Sea Scrolls had the ancients failed to invent papyrus, just as we wouldn't have "The Da Vinci Code" if Gutenberg hadn't come out with movable type. Technology has also abetted literature by enabling the wealth and leisure that fueled the rise of the popular press — and allowed for such luxuries as a class of professional writers and a large campus establishment devoted to the literary arts. It is important to bear in mind that technology is not the sworn enemy of literature as Apple prepares (according to frantic rumor) to unveil its much-anticipated new tablet computer on Jan. 27. Still, the collision of technology and literature in this case may well prove explosive.

Blogs, YouTube prompted Supreme Court's Campaign Finance Ruling

Declan McCullagh
Jan 21, 2010

The U.S. Supreme Court's sweeping ruling on Thursday that invalidated large chunks of campaign finance law arose in part from an unlikely source: the rise of Facebook, YouTube, and blogs and the decline of traditional media outlets. A 5-4 majority of the justices concluded that technological changes have chipped away at the justification for a law that allows individuals to post their opinions about a political candidate -- but threatens the ACLU, the National Rifle Association, the Sierra Club, a labor union, or a for-profit corporation with felony criminal sanctions if they happen to do the same on their own Web site or blog.

Google, China, and the New High Ground of Advantage

Umair Haque
Jan 16, 2010

A hill, a giant chasm, and a cloud-covered peak. Close your eyes and picture a lopsided "M" for a second. That's the new landscape of advantage. And the recent skirmish between Google and China is its best example yet. On one side is the old high ground of the industrial era capitalism; on the other, the new high(er) ground of next-generation capitalism. The yawning chasm in between them is the gap between the 20th century and the 21st.

The Most Relevant Identity Work of the Decade

Jan 13, 2010

I gave myself a deadline of January 15 to do a recap of identity work in the 2000s, assuming that it wouldn’t be an editorial faux pas to do a list of this sort well into the new year. So here it is. An admittedly incomplete — it would take months to do this exhaustively — compilation of the most relevant identities of the past decade. The choices are listed chronologically and there is no ranking system, they are simply there as records of the corporations, products and services that shaped the decade and the identities that helped (or didn’t help) shape their perception in consumers’ eyes and minds.

The Battle of the Brain

Iain McGilchrist
Jan 4, 2010

Why is the brain divided? If it is about making connections, why has evolution so carefully preserved the segregation of its hemispheres? Almost every function once thought to be the province of one or other hemisphere—language, imagery, reason, emotion—is served by both hemispheres, not one. There is nonetheless a highly significant difference in how the two hemispheres work, giving rise to two wholly distinct takes on the world. Normally we synthesize them without being aware that we are doing so. But one of the two hemispheres can come to dominate—and just as this may happen for individuals, it may also happen for a whole culture.

The Apparatgeist Calls

Jan 3, 2010

How you use your mobile phone has long reflected where you live. But the spirit of the machines may be wiping away cultural differences.

Why Twitter Will Endure

David Carr
Jan 3, 2010

I can remember when I first thought seriously about Twitter. Last March, I was at the SXSW conference, a conclave in Austin, Tex., where technology, media and music are mashed up and re-imagined, and, not so coincidentally, where Twitter first rolled out in 2007. As someone who was oversubscribed on Facebook, overwhelmed by the computer-generated RSS feeds of news that came flying at me, and swamped by incoming e-mail messages, the last thing I wanted was one more Web-borne intrusion into my life.

The Meaning of Open

Jonathan Rosenberg
Dec 22, 2009

Last week I sent an email to Googlers about the meaning of "open" as it relates to the Internet, Google, and our users. In the spirit of openness, I thought it would be appropriate to share these thoughts with those outside of Google as well. At Google we believe that open systems win. They lead to more innovation, value, and freedom of choice for consumers, and a vibrant, profitable, and competitive ecosystem for businesses. Many companies will claim roughly the same thing since they know that declaring themselves to be open is both good for their brand and completely without risk. After all, in our industry there is no clear definition of what open really means. It is a Rashomon-like term: highly subjective and vitally important.

Musts of Marketing for the Next 100 Years

Bob Liodice
Dec 18, 2009

As we begin a one-year celebration of the ANA's 100th anniversary, we have created the Marketers' Constitution, which contains 10 essentials of marketing for the next 100 years. Its purpose is to ensure that our industry continues to thrive and contribute to the growth of the U.S. economy and to the well-being of our society.

Craft a Narrative to Instill Optimism

John Baldoni
Dec 18, 2009

"We do have a conscious say in selecting the narrative we will use to make sense of the world," writes New York Times columnist David Brooks. "Individual responsibility is contained in the act of selecting and constantly revising the master narrative we tell about ourselves." Brooks' explanation about choice of narrative can apply to leaders seeking ways to navigate our recession. The relentless tide of bad news may tempt those in charge to adopt a pessimistic view point, but leaders owe it to their followers to spread optimism. Without excluding reality, leaders need to inspire not simply hope, but also resilience. Storytelling can help in this effort. Here are some suggestions for crafting your own story to make sense of adversity.

Are We Addicted To Giving Our Own Opinions

Chris Brogan
Nov 13, 2009

The tools we use for social media have empowered us to be steady-flow commentators. Watch Twitter or Facebook during any event, and you’ll see our added commentary rolling along in time with the experience. At times, such as the US Presidential election, it was exciting to feel that experience, of everyone participating all across the world in an event. There are many more times where it feels like that. In blog comments, on Twitter, all over Facebook, Yelp, YouTube, and several other sites, we’ve been groomed to give our opinion. We spit it out everywhere. We share, rate, criticize, deride, praise, and everything in between. Forrester’s Ladder graphic suggests that critics are second on the content ladder, just below creators.

Implementing a B2B Content Strategy: Consider How

Valeria Maltoni
Nov 10, 2009

Businesses are made of people, many of them in the middle. While everyone loves to talk to the C-level, the shift in the way people at all levels work, select and recommend service providers, and get things done is more notable in the thick of things, so to speak. Technology has made it even easier for people to connect with peers, collaborate, and get and give direct and indirect (through search) feedback. There's a reason why social media has put a spotlight on being human - brands forgot how to tell stories. Along with a "me, too" characteristic of many B2Bs always in search of benchmarking and way to validate their value props, companies forgot (more likely stopped funding) media integration. This first set of considerations presents some difficulties in the connected world we live in.

Flip's Quest in First Major Ad Push: Become a Lifestyle Brand

Rita Chang
Nov 10, 2009

Flip, the Cisco-owned maker of pocket-sized camcorders, wants to go mass, and it's hoping its first, multimillion-dollar ad campaign, launched today, will establish it as a lifestyle brand. For a company that has previously eschewed big media buys in favor of grassroots marketing, it's a new strategy. But there's a lot at stake for the player that invented the sub-category of dummy-proof, affordable camcorders priced around or below the $200 range. For starters, it needs to quickly capitalize on the market's growth before it tapers off, thanks in part to competition from video-camera-enabled smartphones.

The Internet is Killing Storytelling

Ben Macintyre
Nov 9, 2009

Narratives are a staple of every culture the world over. They are disappearing in an online blizzard of tiny bytes of information.

Text is the New Multimedia

Jonathan Salem Baskin
Nov 2, 2009

If video killed the radio star, wasn't video supposed to obliterate text? It hasn't. Not even close. Who would have thought that 2009 would witness instead the continued resurgence of the written word? The language was sometimes indeterminable, and the conversations often unrepeatable without a blush added to the shrug, but text has proven amazingly resilient as a communications medium. Words "work" on printed pages and mobile phone screens (i.e. cross-platform), find utility for marketing strategies old and new (you can use them to declare, or to converse), and prove convenient and adaptable for users young and old.

Why 'Charlotte's Web' Suddenly Matters to Marketing

Ann Handley
Oct 29, 2009

The other day I got an email press release from a technology company crowing about a partnership with another organization. It read, in part: "We believe the alliance between xxx and yyy represents a synergistic win-win with significant value add for both solutions, allowing each to utilize and leverage their unique strengths in the market." Huh? If the news was worth covering, I couldn't tell, because the press release was stuffed to the seams with jargon-filled corporate-speak. I deleted the email almost immediately, sat back in my desk chair, and thought about EB White. EB White was, of course, the author of Charlotte's Web and Stuart Little. But he was also the co-author, with William Strunk Jr., of The Elements of Style.

Eight Observations

Cynthia Kurtz
Oct 28, 2009

As my original career was in biology, when I started working with stories I naturally wanted to consider the natural history of stories, including their life cycles. Now this is a much more difficult thing with stories than with tadpoles or mushrooms, because stories mingle and morph in ways that creatures can't. But here is try at it, based on my experiences and what I've read. I've been pondering this cycle for a long time and playing with it in mind, and this is what I've got to lately. Of course this cycle will be nothing new to anyone who thinks about stories, and it's obviously a greatly simplified metaphor, and I'm merrily making up terms as I go. But this sort of thing can provide a scaffold for discussions about helping people tell and share stories to attain goals.

Brand is Not a Four-Letter Word

Tom Asacker
Oct 21, 2009

A few weeks ago, I had lunch with a friend prior to an evening speech. After some small talk about life, the universe and everything, our conversation naturally turned to the abysmal U.S. economy. “Things are really tough right now,” she explained. “I’ve tried to get everyone to understand the importance of branding in this very difficult environment, but I don’t think they get it. In fact,” she added. “Our customers hate that word.” “What word?” I asked. “Brand?” “Yea. The non-profits we work with have a real aversion to the whole notion of branding. I guess they don’t really understand the concept and how it applies to them.” They’re not the only ones.

A Writing Revolution

Denis G. Pelli & Charles Bigelow
Oct 20, 2009

Nearly everyone reads. Soon, nearly everyone will publish. Before 1455, books were handwritten, and it took a scribe a year to produce a Bible. Today, it takes only a minute to send a tweet or update a blog. Rates of authorship are increasing by historic orders of magnitude. Nearly universal authorship, like universal literacy before it, stands to reshape society by hastening the flow of information and making individuals more influential. As an open research question, we asked whether it’s possible to objectively track this change and accurately predict the eventual threshold point of universal authorship.

Why It's Time to Do Away With the Brand Manager

Jack Neff
Oct 12, 2009

Managing a brand has always been a slightly odd concept, given that consumers are the real arbiters of brand meaning, and it's become increasingly outmoded in today's two-way world. That's why a new report is going to recommend changing the name "brand manager" to "brand advocate," and fundamentally changing marketer organizations in response to the onset of the digital age. The report, due out next week from Forrester, finally puts the onus on marketers to change their structures -- a welcome conclusion for media owners and agencies who keep hearing how they should change, but often complain that their clients have done little to shift their organizations to cope with an increasingly complex world of media fragmentation and rising retailer and consumer power.

The Awesomeness Manifesto

Umair Haque
Sep 17, 2009

Innovation: it's the ultimate source of advantage, the undisputed heavyweight champion of the economic ring. Innovation is what every organization should be ruthlessly pursuing, right? Wrong. I'd like to advance a hypothesis: awesomeness is the new innovation. Let's face it. "Innovation" feels like a relic of the industrial era. And it just might be the case that instead of chasing innovation, we should be innovating innovation — that innovation needs innovation. Why? When we examine the economics of innovation, three reasons emerge.

A New Sustainable Language for Business

Melissa Davis
Sep 15, 2009

Every so often the vocabulary of business adopts new words that filter into the mainstream business psyche. For example, the language of brands and branding is now commonly used and understood across a range of sectors— from universities to social enterprises to small businesses. Over the past year or two, the new vocabulary has brought in “sustainability,” whether it is to talk about the environment or general business operations, about communities or the future. Google the term and you’ll see that “sustainability” has 28 million definitions—only a few million short of the 34 million entries for “branding." Words that become common business parlance can shift in meaning and, in doing so, become open to a multitude of interpretations.

What Do You Mean by "Really" Really?: that American Culture is Under Renovation?

Grant McCracken
Sep 9, 2009

It's fashionable to say "really?" in a new way. The old way of saying "really?" meant (roughly) Wow, that's interesting. Thanks! As in: "Did you know the Pittsburgh Pirates are the worst team in Christendom? "Really!" The new way of saying "really?" means (roughly), "That's what you're going with? I wouldn't have made that choice. I wonder if you're an idiot." As in: "I'm thinking about moving to Connecticut." "Really." The first really is using spoken with the upward lilt of a question. The second really usually comes with an emphatic downturn in tone. (It's heavy with scorn.) I'm not sure when this new really arrived. Certainly, a tipping point came when Saturday Night Live began running "Really?!? with Seth and Amy." Phrases dream of this kind of exposure. To be blessed by Lorne Michaels. To be lifted out of the obscurity. "Really" went big time. But it's not enough to be elevated by Lorne Michaels. A phrase doesn't flourish unless it speaks to something in our culture. And that's the question: what does the sudden popularity of this little phrase tell us about ourselves?

Organizational Culture 101: A Practical How-To For Interaction

Sam Ladner
Sep 8, 2009

Organizations are tenuous phenomena; they can fall apart at any time. To navigate the landscape of organizational culture interaction designers need a set of practical tools, language & knowledge drawn from the world of cultural anthropology. It’s happened to all of us. We walk into what we think is a Web redesign project, only to find we have unwittingly ignited the fires of WW III in our client’s organization. What begins as a simple design project descends – quickly – into an intra-organizational battle, with the unprepared interaction designer caught in the crossfire. What is it about design projects that seem to attract such power struggles? Contrary to what you might think, being stuck in the middle of an internecine battle is actually an opportunity to effect meaningful change on your client’s organization.

An Analysis of “A Brand Is”

Denise Lee Yohn
Sep 4, 2009

The folks at Blackcoffee have been inviting folks to complete the thought, “A Brand Is…”. I was so fascinated to read the range of responses that I decided to take a closer look. I wanted to see what common themes emerged among people’s definitions of “Brand” and what we could learn from them.

John Quincy Adams Didn't Tweet

Jonathan Salem Baskin
Aug 12, 2009

The Massachusetts Historical Society is publishing the one-liner diary entries that President John Qunicy Adams made in late August, 1809; his posts were all 140 characters or less, so it’s doing it via Twitter. You can read them as if he’s tweeting each day, 200 years later. He has 4,200+ followers, so a few social media advocates have said this proves there’s value in micro-blog (short) posts. While the technology of Twitter may be new, the desire and utility behind the behavior is hundreds of years old. If Adams could tweet without a mobile phone app, shouldn’t we all consider it almost an obligation to do so now? Er, no.

10 Words I Would Love To See Banned From Press Releases

Robin Wauters
Aug 2, 2009

Ever since I’ve started blogging about technology a couple of years ago, I’ve been consistently growing an immense feeling of hate towards press releases, and it’s not getting any better. It’s not that I dislike the PR industry in general, although I often wonder how so many of these firms continue to be in business when the large majority of them have been doing it exactly the same way for the past few decades, instead of evolving.

Just Another Secret Code

Jonathan Salem Baskin
Jul 23, 2009

The newly reformulated Powerade contains "ION4," and the branding emphasizes the secret code for this new concoction at the expense of the name of the product. I'm not sure that’s such a smart thing to do.

Robert Lutz and Marketing Malpractice

Grant McCracken
Jul 19, 2009

GM's CMO Robert Lutz was recently told an awful truth: "In my group it is just uncool to drive a GM car -- even if they are as good as the imports." He replied: "I guess it depends whether you have your own personality or whether you are a lemming-like follower of current trends. I think an audacious and bold person with a mind of his or her own would go to a dealership and see that our new vehicles easily trounce the foreign competition. . . . It's uncool to drive an import." It's hard to assess how many ways this violates the marketer's handbook...but I'm going to try.

We are All Writers Now

Anne Trubek
Jun 28, 2009

Blogs, Twitter, Facebook: these outlets are supposedly cheapening language and tarnishing our time. But the fact is we are all reading and writing much more than we used to...

How Does Our Language Shape the Way We Think?

Lera Boroditsky
Jun 16, 2009

For a long time, the idea that language might shape thought was considered at best untestable and more often simply wrong. Research in my labs at Stanford University and at MIT has helped reopen this question.

Authenticity vs. Authority

Mark L. Olson
Jun 14, 2009

As a marketing and communications professional, I stress simple, straightforward language in my work, and I’m always watching for the evolving lexicon of the market. Two words that have been showing up all over the blogosphere, Web and in print like they’re on sale are authenticity and authority. After reading scores of bogs and articles featuring one or both words, it struck me there were two schools of thought among web experts, bloggers and marketers about which was more important, or which begat the other.

Old-school Word Nerds Meet the Digital Age

Caroline McCarthy
Jun 8, 2009

Now here's one you don't see every day: Wordnik, which launched out of private beta on Monday and states its mission as "discovering all the words and everything about them." Taking the basic premise of a dictionary, Wordnik supplements each entry with Web 2.0's tastiest treats--relevant Flickr images, Twitter search matches, user-contributed tags and comments--and then invites users to add their own words, too.

What is a C-Suite?

Grant McCracken
May 28, 2009

It's the place senior managers gather to deliberate. It's the place where the most pressing decisions are made. What's the metaphor that best captures the C-suite?

100 Most Creative People in Business

Fast Company staff
May 20, 2009

There are no rules about creativity. Which made constructing our list of the 100 Most Creative People in Business a tricky task. We looked for dazzling new thinkers, rising stars, and boldface names who couldn't be ignored. We avoided people we've profiled in the recent past. We emphasized those whose creativity addresses a larger issue -- from the future of our energy infrastructure to the evolution of philanthropy to next-generation media and entertainment. So read on. Enjoy. Quibble. Complain.

When CYA can BYA

Jeff Jarvis
May 17, 2009

In this week’s kerfuffling on Twitter and blogs about the Wall Street Journal’s anti-interactive interactivity rules regarding Twitter et al, a New York Times editor took a few of us to task for not recognizing that this was just a case of a CYA - cover your ass - memo from lawyers. I responded that CYA can now BYA - burn your ass - when such memos become public, as they will, and speak for you.

Starbucks' Shift Reflected in Words

Andrea James
May 7, 2009

Last year marked several significant transitions for Seattle-based Starbucks. Howard Schultz returned to the role of chief executive officer, the company shuffled its leadership team, closed stores, introduced new products and shifted its focus from opening new stores to maintaining quality and customer loyalty. Though Starbucks was already in transition before the economic slump worsened, the recession intensified the need for corporate changes. Starbucks is an image company, one in which words matter. In 2009, executives described the coffee giant using a different set of terms than they used in 2007. The word clouds below show us how different.

The Cloud Shall Part

Jonathan Salem Baskin
May 6, 2009

The way that "cloud computing" is marketed makes me expect a pitch for a deed to a bridge in New Jersey will come next. In a sentence, cloud computing is when data, services, and apps that run on one of your computing devices are available on all of your devices because they run somewhere else. That somewhere is called the cloud because it makes your stuff available everywhere. The problem is that it kinda feels like nowhere, doesn't it?

The Art of Listening

Colin Goedecke
Apr 30, 2009

Listening is about being still. And patient. And generous. It’s a difficult trifecta to achieve. Think about the last time almost anyone you know gave their absolute attention to you or someone who was talking to them. You have to quiet your mind entirely, and be willing to be influenced by someone else’s thinking and thoughts. You need to put aside any desire to rebut or argue a point, and be completely open and non-judgmental. Very hard to do.

Shakespeare Did It

Jonathan Salem Baskin
Apr 21, 2009

Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens has rendered a verdict: William Shakespeare couldn't have written the plays attributed to his pen. The likely author was Edward de Vere, the 17th earl of Oxford. This says lots about the nature of truth in the chaos of our Information Age...or the changed definition of how we make decisions in our Age of Chaos.

The Branding Of Language

Steve Rivkin
Apr 10, 2009

"Do you Yahoo?" "Did you Xerox the report?" "Did you FedEx it?" "Did you see the messenger Rollerblading?" It's the branding of language. Once upon a time, using a brand name as a verb was anathema. It was behavior that would drive a trademark lawyer crazy. But more and more marketers are deciding that the grand slam of branding is to become part of the language - in effect, having your trademark substitute in everyday usage for the type of action or service that your mark identifies. Could there be, they argue, any clearer expression of a leadership position?

Twitter and Groan: New Sounds in New Media

Grant McCracken
Apr 6, 2009

Thursday I heard a characteristically wonderful presentation by Faris Yakob at the BrainJuicer event in NYC. (This guy is talent with a capital T[shirt].) In passing, Faris noted that some people now groan when the term "twitter" comes up in conversation. Groaning? I can see exclaiming, kvelling, even plotzing. But groaning. Why groaning? The answer to this question lies, I think, in another question: why do people groan at puns?

'Save Now' Is the New 'Buy Now"

Chad White
Mar 24, 2009

Last year, marketers seemed to be slow to change their messaging in response to the yet-to-be-formally-declared recession. During the holidays, retailers responded to slowing sales largely by promoting deep discounts in email after email. However, since the turn of the calendar, I've seen retailers adopting a variety of tactics to coax sales from their recession-wary customers:

Plain Speak

Frank Striefler and Erik Hanson
Mar 18, 2009

Life today can be complicated. The accelerating pace of innovation, ideas and technology, and the pressure to keep up with it all in real time can make just getting by quite an effort. So, people don’t have the time or attention to go out of their way to understand things that are confusing. In fact, the more complicated something is, the greater the need for simpler ways of understanding it.

When Search And Social Collide

Gord Hotchkiss
Mar 12, 2009

Search, and Google in particular, was the first true language of the Web. But I've often called it a toddler's language - intentional, but not fully voiced. This past few weeks folks are noticing an important trend - the share of traffic referred to their sites is shifting. Facebook (and for some, like this site, Twitter) is becoming a primary source of traffic. Why? Well, two big reasons. One, Facebook has metastasized to a size that rivals Google. And two, Facebook Connect has come into its own.

Competition, Positioning and Blazing Your Own Trail

Feb 25, 2009

I’m gonna open up the Brains on Fire heart and soul here for a moment and talk about something that we struggle with: it’s how we talk about what we do as a company. Here’s the dilemma: If you use your own language, then you have to explain harder what you do. But if you use the same language as everyone else, then you fall into the “just another” category.

Going from Black-and-White to Color

Colin Goedecke
Jan 20, 2009

When The Wizard of Oz goes from black-and-white to color, the story springs to life all the more vividly; extraordinarily. In the eyes of today’s audiences, many companies’ stories, images and messages are missing a richly individual character: a truly distinctive color, contrast, aura, personality.

The New Journalism: Goosing the Gray Lady

Emily Nussbaum
Jan 13, 2009

This past year has been catastrophic for the New York Times. Advertising dropped off a cliff. The stock sank by 60 percent, and by fall, the paper had been rated a junk investment, announced plans to mortgage its new building, slashed dividends, and, as of last week, was printing ads on the front page. And yet, even as the financial pages write the paper’s obit, something hopeful has been going on: a kind of evolution.

Dewey Defeats Truman

Seth Godin
Dec 12, 2008

Headlines matter now more than they ever did. Headlines provoke and introduce. They cajole and they position. No headline, no communication.

Welcome to the Post-Agency Era

Patrick Davis
Nov 24, 2008

The post-agency era is upon us. With staggering speed and efficiency, consumer preferences and digital technologies have coalesced to create a broad and deep cultural demand for direct relationships. In this disintermediated market, do we need go-betweens at all?

Embrace Cultural Diversity? Ignore It At Your Peril

Nigel Hollis
Nov 21, 2008

For brand marketers today, "global" is increasingly the name of the game. Long the prerogative of American and European brands, now Chinese, Indian, Mexican and Brazilian brands are seeking to establish their position as global players. Underlying this push to globalize brands is the assumption that the world is becoming more homogeneous.

Onion Nation

Wells Tower
Nov 17, 2008

If its absurdist twists and wicked parodies of conventional journalism are just a joke, thecountry's leading satirical newspaper is having the last laugh.

Obama's New Toy

John Dickerson
Nov 17, 2008

Snazzy new technology isn't enough to bring transparency to the White House.


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