Tag Archives: branding

Bowling Green Tourism Claims ‘Geared for Fun’ and Begins Its Branding

Another destination branding project is underway. Our team has worked hard over the past several months in leading the Bowling Green Area Convention & Visitors’ Bureau to their current branding and marketing efforts. Recently we helped them introduce “Geared for Fun” as a theme for launching their work ahead. The entire organization appears to be excited and ready to create traction within the destination and poised to reach out to visitors with a strong compelling message.

The story below is from the local Bowling Green press covering the introduction.

“Bowling Green Rebranded As A Destination Geared for Fun”.

I am truly exited to watch them navigate their marketing efforts using their new brand direction and action plan.Image


Three Lessons In Marketing from Hot Chicken

Today I ate at 400 Degrees. It’s a Nashville hot chicken restaurant. Although I am not a food critic like my friend Chris Chamberlain, I can promise you 400 Degrees delivers nothing short of spicy poultry goodness. However, I did see a simple but powerful lesson in bold marketing from my experience.


1. You are what you say you are. 

The name of the restaurant is 400 Degrees! That pretty much sets expectations that whatever you get, it’s gonna be pretty hot. They specialize in hot spicy chicken. In fact, practically everything on their menu is, well, hot chicken. There is a hot pork chop option. Many marketers could apply this lesson in naming products. Perhaps one of the easiest ways to brand yourself is your name.  Ask Scott, the Nametag Guy. That’s right. He’s a guy that is quite the successful speaker and author because he always wears a name tag. He calls himself The Nametag Guy. Go figure?

2. Go all In. If you’re gonna be something, OWN IT.

400 Degrees Hot Chicken is not warm. It’s not really mildly hot. It’s hotter than blazes. Your sweat glands may protest the meal. It tastes and makes you feel like – 400 degrees! Ahhhhhhhhhh. Get it? If you’re going to make a claim, deliver it loudly. I had a client last week claim to be the world’s best at their industry. Really? Are you ready to deliver on such a promise? The better decision is the adjust your promise so you can deliver it better than anyone else. And then own it in everything you do.

3. Make no apologies for who you are. 

If anyone is surprised and wants to complain to 400 Degrees because their chicken was too hot I hope the management says something like, “We told you it was 400 Degrees Hot Chicken you big dummy”. I’m not saying we should be rude or not listen to our customers, but once you develop your promise do not compromise who you are in order to make everyone happy. If you try, you still won’t make everyone happy but you will have walked away from what made you so distinct and wonderful. Be bold with whatever you are and make no apologies.

Now excuse me while I go drink 12 more glasses of water. I just ate some really spicy hot chicken!

Five Ways To Use Twitter for Branding

In just a few weeks (Jan. 27) I will have the fortune of speaking about using Twitter at the Social Media In Action Conference (SMAC)  in Nashville.  Like many other marketers, my company has evolved and uses social media for our clients and our own marketing. That being said, I’m still a branding guy. It’s what I do. In fact, branding has never been more fun and more creative than it is now thanks to Twitter and social media. So here are a few nice ways to use Twitter for branding. They have worked well for some of my clients and for my own branding efforts. I hope it’s helpful.

#1 – Birds of a Feather Flock Together

It’s ironic that such an old adage applies to tweeting but its true. If you want to be known as a digital marketing professional, hang out with other digital marketing professionals. There’s no better way to self-educate and become a part of the conversation than to listen & participate like the very people-brands-products you aspire to be like. I have a client who wants their brand image to be high tech and sophisticated so on Twitter they follow Apple, BMW, and Popular Mechanics to name a few. As long as we can join those conversations then the other old saying is true, “if it looks like a duck and quacks like a duck, it must be a duck”.

#2 – You Are What You Tweet About. Marketers have always tried to create a brand voice that was only expressed from time-to-time in print ads and TV (if you were fortunate enough to spend those kind of dollars). Twitter allows anyone with any budget to have a voice. A company’s brand voice should reflect the personality traits of the brand. If you want to be quirky and irreverent, then tweet away (but be ready for honest feedback). If you want to be positioned as a serious sophisticated professional then you may want to dial back your tweets from Saturday night. You are what you tweet about – party animal.

#3 – Lists

If you’re not using Twitter lists you should. For starters, it makes viewing Twitter a lot more friendly and focused. Trust me. Second, it is a great way to group interests (or focus areas) that reflect your brand. For example, if you want to be know as a Nashville Night Spot, create a list of the same name and include other places that fit that profile so you can follow all the conversation for Nashville Hot Spots. By the way, don’t forget to include your own profile in the list if it fits your identity.

Examples of Twitter lists.

Another thing to know, what comes around goes around. What Twitter lists have you been placed in? Other people on Twitter are categorizing you into some focused list. If you are doing a good job branding yourself (using some of the steps mentioned above) your lists will reveal what you really are. Like it or not. I’ve been listed 79 times by others that include the lists of: tourism, nashville-tweeps, mycreativeteam-on-a-list, travel, nashville-marketing, place branding, social media and more. I’ll take it. Those lists fit the profiles I am trying to target.

#4 – Hashtags

Hashtags (#) are becoming more popular. I am now seeing them on TV commercials, programs and news broadcasts. In all cases they are being used to call attention to a particular topic of conversation. So, if you want to stand for something, use a hashtag as a point of emphasis on that topic. Dr. Pepper’s  newest marketing campaign uses the hashtag #ImA to initiate discussion behind their renewed “I’m A Pepper” efforts.

Hammer  uses #savebowling as a call-to-arms for all bowlers to get back to ‘what matters” for bowling enthusiasts.

#5 – Coming Next – – Brand Pages

Recently Twitter announced details on their upcoming brand pages. This will allow marketers to have large header images to display brand messages more prominently and to choose one tweet to constantly stay at the top of the page as an overall brand message. Pretty cool.

Twitter has said they will launch brand pages with 21 major marketers. None are surprises but look for the following brand pages from these brands soon:  American Express, Best Buy, Bing, Chevrolet, Coca-Cola, Dell , Disney, General Electric, Hewlett-Packard, Intel, JetBlue, Kia, McDonald’s, Nike , PepsiCo, Staples, Verizon Communications Wireless.

So there you go. Build your brand with Twitter. And please pass along any more tips that work for your business. If you’re interested in the Social Media Action Conference register at http://transparentsocialmedia.com/smac2012/. Plus use the code “Steve” when you register to get $100 off the registration price.

Martin Agency Reveals the DNA of a Great Client

Chris Mumford, SVP Group Account Director from the Martin Agency, visited Nashville this week to chat with the gang from AAF Nashville. For those that are not familiar with the Martin Agency, they’ve been quite successful. The claimed the spotlight many years ago by creating the “Virginia’s For Lovers” ad campaign.

Today they claim client relationshps with Wal-Mart, Discover, Pizza Hut, and GEICO.  Chris was in town sharing the GEICO ad campaign success secrets. Of course he showed some behind-the-scenes footage of the famous ad clips and how they were created. Good stuff. Naturally everyone wanted to know how Martin creates such great work over and over. Interestingly, the one thing he said trumps everything is having a great client. What makes a gerat client in the eyes of last year’s Adweek Ad Agency fo the Year? Chris revealed the key factors according to the Martin Agency.

A great client does the following:

Understands his/her business and the role marketing plays in it.

Has a seat at the table – This is big. It makes the difference in an agency’s ability to sell to the very top without countless rounds of revisions.

Values long term partnerships – GEICO has been a client of Martin for 16 years. Their PR agency is a 17 year partner.

Ain’t afraid to take a risk – If you’ve seen the GEICO spots you understand this point.

Doesn’t sweat the small stuff – if you spend too much time worrying about all the litle details 9whcih is what you pay others to do) then you’ll lose site of the big picture and what you’re really trying to accomplish. GEICO has moved from #10 in insurance to #3 in the past 10-15 years. I think they get it.

Likes to have fun –  Cavemen. Kash the stack of dollar bills. A gecko for a spokesperson.

Good stuff all around. Thanks Chris Mumford and Martin Agency for sharing.

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Hey Gap! Crowd Sourcing Is No Way to Design a Logo.

That’s right. I said it. Sure I love social media. Consumer interaction with brands is at an all-time high and its only getting deeper.  BUT, decision by committee stinks. It always takes longer to make decisions and almost always results in playing it safe.


Many have been questioning GAP's approach for designing a new logo.


GAP is creating a new logo because they are trying to address some very important marketing objectives. Marketing is about strategy. Strategy is about sacrifice. If you’ve read some of the recent news on their logo development, you noticed consumers have been tearing it apart. Of course now GAP is acting like its part of their plan. Yes, they were going to crowdsource it all along (yeah right).

I’ve led the charge in the development of close to 100 logos in my life. Some have been great. Some have been good. Some have been boring. Every time I had to cater to a committee it led to the boring logos. Every time. Why? It’s a creative exercise. The very nature of creativity is subjective. Of course not everyone is gonna like it. If they did I would question the strength and boldness of the work. Great creativity is bold. It can inspire. It can make people ask questions. It can make people think differently than they did before (I bet this is something very important to GAP in recent years). How often have you seen a new marketing message and first thought, “what the heck is that all about”? How often did that same quirky message get stuck in your head? Sure some marketers do dumb things and make bad decisions. But some are successful because they are different.

Crowd sourcing is a great way to gather input to generate ideas and to hear unfiltered feedback. Love it. Gonna do it when appropriate for my clients. But not for making creative decisions.

Please GAP, you pay some strong salaries and spend money on a lot of research to help give you the insights you need to make smart marketing decisions. Don’t open this to a giant super committee.

LeBrand James Is a Destination Marketing Stimulus Package

Some people are already calling it the LeBron Effect.

Here’s a great destination marketing strategy – bring in the most anticipated, over-hyped, ridiculously over-exposed, amazingly talented and marketable free-agent in the history of American professional sports. Lebron Fest 2010 AKA “The Decision”, was big and Miami will reap the rewards. Don’t believe me? Check out what’s already happening:

1. “It’s tantamount to signing the Beatles to a season-long engagement at our stadium,” said Scott Becher, president of Boca Raton-based Sports and Sponsorships.

2. Rick Horrow, author and sports business commentator estimates a 30-40% increase in sponsorships and overall revenue for the Miami Heat. Maybe more.

3. Expected to create an additional $10 million in playoff revenue along (assuming the guys take it deep into the playoffs and reach the Finals each year). The city of Miami has been projected to make an estimated $27 million per playoff game. Wow. Talk about an economic impact. (John Skorburg, an economics professor at the University of Illinois did a Lebron economic impact study).

4. Of course the Heat have only one year left on their TV contract with Clear Channel. Think they’ll be salivating to open that one up for bidders?

5. Ticket sellers are digging the renewed interest in Miami basketball. The day before The Decision, season tickets were going for $3,238. The day afterwards a 2.5x increase, selling for $8,249. Yikes.

6. Real estate agents are already seeing an uptick in request for property. One convinced a buyer to pay an extra $100,000 on a $1.5 million deal near the AmericanAirlines arena. The sudden demand from international buyers are directly connected to LeBron – they’re asking for Heat tickets to be part of their deal.

7. “The L-Brat James” has been created. A spicy themed bratwurst.

Yes, the CEO of the Greater Miami Convention & Visitors Bureau is probably pinching himself. It’s good to be in business in Miami thanks to these little words, “I’ve decided to take my talents to South Beach.

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Hayzlett – A CMO On Steroids?

Jeff Hayzlett, the most recent CMO of Eastman Kodak, came to Nashville and the Nashville Technology Council this past Friday to part some wisdom about creating change and launch his new book, The Mirror Test.

I now see why people say Jeff is a Chief Marketing Officer on steroids. He’s intense.

He started out asking a question that set a tone for change. “How many people bought film this past year?” Not one person in the crowd raised their hand.

He then asked, “How many people took digital photos or own a digital camera?” Of course every single hand went up.

Yes, the business of film had almost completely dissipated. Jeff said 5 years ago Kodak did over $15 billion in sales from film. This year they would do $200 million.

He then took us through his story of creating change at Kodak. Pretty cool. Pretty bold. Here’s the cliff notes –

Regarding Proof of Life –

Why are you in the game? Not a bad question to remind yourself what business are you in? If Kodak answered this by saying they were in the film business then they may have sold their naming right by now or closed altogether. Instead they made a decision to be in the memory business.

Develop a new elevator pitch. He coined it “Your 118”. Hook me in 8 seconds (average attention span) and you have 110 seconds to sell me (average length of NYC elevator ride).

Regarding leadership –

Set clear Conditions of Satisfaction. Read his book on this one. It’s fundamental and a smart way to approach the promise made to your customers.

Cause tension. Don’t break glass but stretch it. This ensures you and your team stay sharp and are always getting better.

Be you you are but find the slowest common denominator (the person on your team that is the slowest) and fire them. He called it, “We love you but we’ll miss you”.

No one is going to die. Quit delaying decisions in fear they may fail. Some will. Move on. No one is going to die.

Six Rules to Remember

1. Ask employees

2. Involve everyone and make it a priority

3. Chart progress

4. Reward good behavior

5. Fire people (and clients)

6. Remember. Mood is everything.

Bottom Line

Better is better.

Buzz is not sales.

What is your operating philosophy? For Kodak is became FAST –  Focus. Accountibility. Simplicity. Trust. If you have trust then you should encourage healthy debates. Even with the top-cheese.

Never compete on price (whoo-hoo).

3 Customer Nevers

Take a customer for granted…trust!

Never really assume you know your customer.

Never really stop selling your company…and you!

After that he yelled and karate chopped a table in half. Not really. But he left the crowd pretty stoked about creating change.

One last note, he signed his book I bought by writing “Go FOG yourself”. Read the book.

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