Rule #1 – Be Yourself

Back in the nascent days of Cronin Creative, we were presented with the opportunity to show our portfolio to the marketing director of a large medical company here in Nashville. Excited, we took the meeting and things were going great. Then we started to proudly display our graphic design work, most of it from our immediate music business past.

As she perused the CD packaging and marketing materials we designed for country artists like Reba McEntire and Marty Stuart, we could feel the executive rapidly fading. The meeting was, for all intents and purposes, over. With our music biz roots exposed, our potential client shut down, and, thanking us for our time, showed us the door.

We’d learned our lesson, or so we thought. We resolved to hold back a bit, thinking our too-colorful past might hurt our chances with future clients. That didn’t last long. For a lot of good reasons, it just didn’t work for us. The minute we decided to embrace and fully own who we are and the value of our experience and what we have to offer, we began to attract the clients that fit. We learned that there’s no substitute for authenticity in business.

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Not The Same Old Song

I’ve always been a sucker for a music biography. I can’t help myself. Digging into the sometimes inspiring, oftentimes trashy chronicles of my rock ‘n’ roll heroes brings out the kid in me every time. And occasionally they offer up a nugget of genuine insight.

I recently picked up a copy of “Delta Lady,” a biographical memoir from Rita Coolidge. For those of you who may not go back that far, Coolidge, the inspiration for Leon Russell’s “Delta Lady,” evolved from the queen of the ’60s backup singers to a successful soft-rocking ’70s solo artist, charting 25 hits and surviving a celebrity marriage with Kris Kristofferson along the way.

Coolidge relates the tale of her decision, several years back, to stop performing her signature hit, a mellow cover of Jackie Wilson’s “(Your Love Has Lifted Me) Higher And Higher.” Having performed the song countless times over the years, the singer had finally had enough and removed it from her set list. She subsequently attended a concert by Luther Vandross, one of her all-time favorite singers, where Vandross stubbornly refused to perform any of his hits. Leaving the concert disappointed, Coolidge changed her tune, adding “Higher” back into her set and vowing to somehow present the song “fresh” at every performance.

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Give Me A Break!

I need a break. I mean I really, really need a break. Like most small business owners I work hard to keep the ship on course and keep the clients satisfied. Like those same small business owners, in my enthusiasm to do the work and get it right, I sometimes lose sight of the importance of time off. In short, it’s been too long. That’s a mistake that I will rectify over the coming week as we take some much-needed vacation time away from the office.

In an Entrepreneur magazine article entitled ” The Secret to Increased Productivity: Taking Time Off,” contributing writer Joe Robinson examines the growing phenomenon of the overworked entrepreneur who forgoes time off because it’s “good for business.”

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The Enduring Power Of Paper

With marketing and branding methods gravitating more and more to our hand-held devices, and traditional brick-and-mortar commerce being supplanted by online monoliths like Amazon, it sometimes seems that all of our daily activities and decisions have become computer-driven. But here at Cronin Creative, we still believe in the formidable power of paper to enrich our lives and inspire consumers like no other medium.

In a recent series of articles, Sappi North America, one of our favorite paper sources, explores the way haptics – the science of touch – is becoming a marketing watchword, with companies turning more and more to paper catalogs to entice and energize consumers. A recent study conducted by magazine publishing giant Condé Nast came to some surprising conclusions regarding the enduring power of paper.

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Small Business – Big Brand

I love speaking to small business owners and entrepreneurs about the importance of branding to the growth and success of their companies. At a recent presentation, I realized that the examples I was using to illustrate this point were, for the most part, large, well-known brands. And while those big brands are useful in illustrating one point or another, it’s important to remember that branding is at least as important for the Davids as it is for the Goliaths.

A recent article from Entrepreneur magazine guest columnist Arpist Sinha effectively drives that point home.

“There is widespread ambivalence about the relevance of branding, especially among startups and small businesses looking to find their feet in an innately hostile environment,” Sinha says. “For the most part, small businesses remain blinded by the erroneous assumption that brands exclusively signify the ‘bigger’ fish in the pond.

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