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Small Is The New Big

I like to shop local. I always have. Maybe it’s a generational thing. I’m old enough to remember when the first malls and mega-stores began to dominate the landscape, and I’ve never been completely comfortable with impersonal shopping in cavernous spaces. I’ll take a knowledgeable, community-focused retailer and a real, one-on-one relationship any day.

For companies looking for the right agency to help with their branding, that small-versus-big question should be given careful consideration.

While the larger agencies bring a level of prestige, their size necessitates more of an assembly line approach, with one or more “reps” standing between the client and the creative team, and marketing and creative often working in separate silos. For some companies, there are advantages to this model, but for many of today’s businesses, there’s a better way to brand.

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The Art of Inspiring Women

This past Sunday I finally got the opportunity to peruse one of my favorite Christmas gifts, a coffee table book entitled, “Mid-Century Modern Women In The Visual Arts.” Written by Gloria Fowler and lushly illustrated by Ellen Surrey, this beautifully curated volume celebrates 25 creative women who achieved success in the mid-20th century. Considering the historic and inspiring Women’s Marches that took place all over the world on Saturday, it was a perfectly timed gift.

In the male-dominated, mid-century work world, success did not come easily to female creatives. The inspiring women featured in this book overcame countless barriers and opened doors for the next generation of women, myself included. I am very grateful to them and to the other amazing mentors in my life, all three of them women.

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The 10 Best Brand Moments Of 2016

What do Pokemon, Chewbacca Mom, and Michael Phelps have in common? They all enjoyed fleeting notoriety over the past year, and each landed on CMO.com’s list of “The 10 Best Brand Moments Of 2016.”

Here in the digital age with its shorter-than-ever attention span, Warhol’s 15 minutes has been reduced to a mere “moment,” which makes the achievement of actually breaking through the noise and capturing the public’s attention, even if only for a few seconds, exponentially more difficult and that much more impressive.

The Adobe-owned CMO.com site, which provides useful “marketing insights, expertise, and inspiration for and by marketing leaders,” sums up this year’s “10 Best” list’s purpose this way: “Often the most uplifting messages came from brands, which provided some hope and levity. At this point, the savviest marketers know that the best way to connect to consumers is to break through to the wider culture. In doing so, they also redefine advertising’s role from intrusive to helpful. That, of course, is tremendously hard to do.”

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Give Nice A Chance

Welcome to 2017. We made it. No matter where you stand politically, there’s no debate about one thing; we’ve all just lived through a campaign season where the dialogue reached never-before-seen levels of nasty. From that perspective, we’re just glad it’s over. I was reaching the end of my rope with all of this when a visit to a local retailer turned into a welcome reminder of the formidable power of “nice.”

In need of paper and toner, I visited my local Office Depot, where the employees are always helpful. But the young man who helped me on this particular morning took nice to a whole new level, making double and triple sure that I had exactly what I needed, and extending every possible courtesy (and discount). He served up a “wow” customer experience and a bit of a wake-up call. In business and in life, it pays to be nice.

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Cover Story

My mom, a first grade teacher, was an expert at reading to kids, and my siblings and I reaped the benefits. She read to us every night, employing a wide range of dialects and injecting her unique personality into every story. I ate it up.

By my college years, however, the glow had worn off, and reading for me had become a chore. It was only later, when I took a job at a bookstore, that my second education began. Freed from the obligation to read, I started doing it for the love of it, hitting every section of the store, and devouring every title in sight.

With all this access, I found myself paying more and more attention to book covers. I came to realize not only how important a cover can be to the commercial success of a newly published work, but how some covers transcend mere marketing. At their best, book covers can stand on their own as fine art.

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