A Sound Investment

Three decades ago, I was in the market for a good quality microphone for my humble home recording studio. I did some reading, hit the stores, and heard a lot of sales pitches. In the end, I took the advice of a friend. “Don’t skimp on a mic,” he said. “Spend the money and buy an AKG414. It’s a great all-around microphone, and you’ll have it forever.”

Sure enough, that microphone has served me (and my recordings) well for 30 years, and it still looks and sounds as good as the day I bought it. It was a stretch for me at the time, but it turned out to be a great investment. Sometimes it just pays to pay more.

I offer that same advice to anyone thinking about creating, or even refreshing, their company’s logo. Your logo is the face of your company, that all-important first impression. Just as there are no two faces exactly alike, your logo should express with clarity what makes you unique, what makes your company the better choice. That’s a heavy load to carry, but that’s how important your logo really is. Aristotle said it best a long time ago: “The soul cannot think without an image.”

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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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