Author Archives: Jake

Turning Your Blog Into an e-Book

ebookWith a new year just a month away, you’re probably already starting to think of ways for your business to make more money and attract more customers. Well, rather than dig deep for some complicated algorithms or developing an intricate strategy, many small businesses have one tool staring them right in the face.

If your brand has a blog, you can use it in more ways than one. And if your brand does not have a blog, you need to remedy that right now.

For those with a blog…have you ever thought of turning it into an e-book? It’s incredibly easy, as the content is already there.

Of course, you don’t want to just throw your most recent posts into e-book format. That’s sort of like cheating, and your audience—as well as potential readers—are going to catch on to it.

Instead, go back through your blog and pick 10-12 of the most popular entries over the last year or two. Which ones generated the most traffic or the most discussion in your comment threads? Pick these out as sure contenders for your book.

In addition, you’ll also want to add a few “bonus” entries that aren’t available on your website. If people are shelling out their hard earned money for your book, give them something that Joe Blow off the street won’t have access to by simply reading your blog for free.

All in all, try to have 15-20 entries in the book. Don’t worry too much about your book’s length, so long as you aren’t overcharging for a smaller word count of less than 10,000 words. On the other hand, if you have your e-book packed with more than 30,000 words of valuable information and content, make sure you charge appropriately. Pick a price that is fair to the customer but also reflects the quality that you are putting out there.

This is a great way to have another revenue stream out there…something to always bring in a little extra cash. Whether you self-publish on Amazon or try to find a publisher, your blog-based e-book can be a great addition to your brand.

Thanksgiving Branding Ideas That Never Were

zazzle-is-selling-this-jigsaw-puzzle-for-3035-online-the-bizarre-online-description-eA late Happy Thanksgiving, everyone. Being a holiday, we thought it might be an opportune time to have some fun with branding and the holiday where most Americans stuff their face to the point of bursting.

So here’s a question…if branding had have been an issue what back when the Pilgrims and the Native Americans shared the first Thanksgiving, what do you think some of their slogans and approaches might have been?

We thought it might look something like this.

From the Pilgrim’s Perspective

There was no social media around, or not even a landline for that matter, so there was really no way of them to announce their arrival to those already living on the land that they had “discovered.” Therefore, we imagine that they were all smiles and trying their warm-up speeches and pitches. Perhaps they would have used openers such as:

  • Our guns are more accurate than your arrows, so let us teach you the ways of guns
  • Look at our fancy clothes. How are you not impressed?
  • These vast boats of ours have come across the endless oceans!
  • We promise, we’ll just stay here on this coast while you have all of that land over there for your families.

From the Native Americans’ Perspective

Who were these new people that were trying to sneak in and encroach on their land, anyway? And now they want to have this huge feast together? Something seems sort of fishy, but let’s not automatically jump to conclusions. Surely in the future, we’ll be good friends and our future generations will be abundant among these great people.

  • Your guns load much slower than my bow so no thank you.
  • Less clothes means less laundry. Also, what’s up with those ridiculous shoes?
  • Nice clunky boat you have there; check out how fast I can run.
  • But we were here first…

Add in to the fun. How do you think the slogans and catchphrases might have gone down during the first Thanksgiving?

Brands to Look for During the Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade

Balloons are paraded down 7th avenue during the 83rd Macy's Thanksgiving day parade in New YorkWhile it’s true that Thanksgiving often gets overshadowed by Christmas even before the turkeys have the time to realize their demise, there is one staple of Thanksgiving that has remained popular through the years: The Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade.

An astounding number of people watch the parade on TV—or, rather, have it on in the background as they get ready for Thanksgiving dinner. But even if you only catch a glimpse of it here or there, you’ll notice that brands have their logos and mascots all over the place.

Believe it or not, this was not always the intent of the parade…if you believe what Macy’s spokespeople have to say.

While we’re not going to say that this parade has become nothing more than a blatant twist at consumerism just a month away from Christmas, we will say that…no, wait, we are going to say that.

Sure, there are the staples from cartoons…Charlie Brown, Snoopy, Dora and SpongeBob. But beyond that, it seems that companies like Disney and Universal are constantly sneaking in floats that tie into a movie that is being released right around the corner. Speaking of Disney, they actually have a brilliant branding strategy in place for the parade: to remind the viewers that they have characters and stories that represent Thanksgivings past as well as Thanksgivings of the future. This is why you will often see Mickey in the same parade as whatever new character they have to flaunt to promote a new movie.

It stands to reason that companies want to ride the popularity of the most prominent Thanksgiving event out there—especially when it can be presented as a form of entertainment.

As of late, even food brands have started to take advantage of the parade. This year, keep a look out for staples like Ronald McDonald, the M&M candy characters, and the Kool-Aid Man, courtesy of Kraft foods.

Hmm…food brands jockeying to get in front of viewers on a holiday that is all about eating. Is this clever or just soulless?

Your thoughts?

4 More Mistakes That Can Ruin Your Brand

We didn’t have you thinking that there were only three key mistakes that you can unknowingly make did we? If so, you’re more gullible that you might have thought.

While the issues that were raised yesterday are certainly some of the most damaging mistakes you can make without being aware of them, here are four other things to look out for.


Not Knowing Your Market Segmentation:

You’re not going to be able to always give the people what they want…especially if you don’t know your customers well. No matter how great the product or service is, if your would-be customers don’t feel that you understand them or can’t meet their needs, they will likely take their business elsewhere. Get a good sense of who your customers really are before you start casting your line into those murky waters.

Don’t Get Lazy When It Comes to Standing Out:

Most potential customers don’t have time to weigh the pros and cons of which business they want to choose. Because of that, you should already have this task taken care of. Let them know right away how you are different and what you can offer than the competitors can’t. Make it obvious in the way of logos, your website, or even you tagline.

And Speaking of Taglines:

oops_Make sure your tagline clearly explains what you do, but in a way that doesn’t simply spell out what you offer. Be catchy and to the point. If you can, be creative and clever. Your tagline is the equivalent of the blurb on the back of a book that makes people decided whether or not they want to buy it.

Consistent Communication is Key:

Keep the same tone, voice, and mood in all communications. If you don’t have a copywriter, this can be tricky. You want your audience to come to expect a certain feeling to your communications, one that will help define the character of your brand. Make sure you always sound like a level headed individual and not a crazy-face with multiple personalities.

What other mistakes have you caught in terms of your branding after the fact?

3 Common Brand Mistakes You Might Not Know You’ve Made

oopsYou can ask anyone in business…the worst mistakes that you can make are the ones that you were completely unaware of until after the fact. Many brands have suffered this fate and have worked extensively to correct it. But there have been others that have made such mistakes and haven’t even discovered them yet.

Hopefully you aren’t among their numbers. But if you’re feeling a bit insecure, here are three things you can look for—surefire branding mistakes that you might not even know you’re making.

Don’t Get Cute or Overly Creative With Your Name or Logo

Even if you think you have what is the coolest, more unique company name there is, make sure it is something that your target audience is going to understand. You want your target market to know who you are and what you do right away. You don’t want to cause any confusion or guesswork just because you picked a confusing name that you thought was a clever idea.

Don’t Detach Yourself from Your Brand

Not only are you the boss of the office…you are the face of your brand. Your attitudes and behaviors are going to ultimately affect the way people view your brand. Keep this in mind when you are giving interviews, doing commercials, or any sort of press-related things. Do your best to match your brand to your personality and vice versa.

Never Underestimate Your Competitors

The internet has made competition very unpredictable in the business world. A business that was small and on the verge of dying one day can be the leader of the pack within just a few weeks. Because of this, you should always be investigating your competition. What are they doing that you aren’t? Is it working? What sort of customers are they bringing in that you can’t seem to attract? Never assume that you are better than any of your competition; this could cause you to overlook them only to have them blaze right by you soon after.

Have you ever caught yourself caught up in one of the mistakes-in-the-making? If so, how did you side-step it?

How Coca-Cola Uses Santa for a Branding Tool

cocacolaDid you ever stop to wonder just how much influence certain brands have over the way we live our lives? It’s easier to spot than you think—especially around the Holidays.

You need look no further than the evolution of Santa Claus and how he has been closely tied to Coca-Cola. This is a connection that has been taking place since the 1920s. And whether you know it or not, many of the things you think you know about Santa are actually from Coke’s branding.

In 1931, Coke started to place ads in popular magazines. These ads featured a Santa that was actually Santa and not just a man dressed as Santa. Back then, this was considered to be risky and quite cutting edge. For inspiration, the ad’s creators drew from the poem “A Visit from St. Nicholas” which is better known as “The Night Before Christmas.” From the rosy cheeks to the jelly-like belly, the Coke ads stayed true to the poem.

Inspiration was also heavily drawn from oil paintings by a man named Sundblom, whom also based his popular Santa on “The Night Before Christmas.”

This design of Santa was first seen in The Saturday Evening Post and then later in The New Yorker and National Geographic.

It is this version of Santa that plush/stuffed Santas were based on, as well as almost any other Santa that appeared in other ads for other companies. Chances are that any jolly depiction of Santa Claus you have ever seen bears some semblance to the one that was present in these ads.

Some of the more classic depictions of Santa in these Coca-Cola ads show Santa peeking into people’s fridges to take a Coke rather than milk and cookies, or simply delivering toys merrily while sipping on a Coke.

Santa and Coke have shared ad space every year since 1931 and there are no signs of stopping. Don’t you wish you could use the Holiday seasons to bran your business so successfully?

Giving Thanks to Your Customers

thanksgiving2With Thanksgiving right around the corner, and the joy and celebration of Christmas right behind it, mot people tend to get in a festive and thankful mood this time of the year.

Even if you aren’t in this camp, you still need to make sure that you use this time of the year to let your clients know that you are thankful for them. It’s the perfect time of year to truly standout; most businesses forget about Thanksgiving and wait until Christmas—just like everyone else.

So this year, separate yourself from your competitors by letting your clients know how much they mean to you and the success of your business. Here are a few ideas for you:

  • Contact your most important clients and let them know you’d like to have lunch with them (knowing that you will be footing the bill). Take the opportunity to let them know how important they are to your business and how you can help them in the future.
  • Send a basic Thank You card. Maybe even include a small voucher for a discount.
  • Consider giving them a gift of some kind, even if it’s as simple as a pen. Anything that is sent with a heartfelt “thank you” is always appreciated.
  • A step beyond y clients and think about your community at large. This is a great way to show the community that your brand is thankful for what you have and that you like to give back from time to time. Participate in a local Toy for Tots campaign or come up with your own. Perhaps consider giving a portion of your proceeds to a local charity for the month of November.

Do you have any other ideas as to how a business can give thanks to their clients in a way that isn’t already saturated by Christmas?

Keeping Quality Employees

happy_employeeIf you can find a happy business and a happy brand, the chances are good that there are happy employees driving it. No matter how savvy of a businessman you are or how many seminars you’ve attended or how many books you’ve read, the true success of any business comes down to the mindset and overall condition of your employees.

Your employees should always know that they are highly valued. And while there are several different ways that you can show them this, there are three basic principles that are more important than any others.

So if you want to show your employees that they truly matter, try these three basic guidelines.

Keep Their Workspace Efficient and Clean (and Even a Little Fun)

Even if you’re not a very exciting individual, that doesn’t mean that the workspace you have provided for your employees needs to be boring and drab. Make sure you allow your employees plenty of freedom when it comes to their workspace. This does not mean to let them get away with being pigs or displaying vulgar material, but it does mean that you should always be thinking of ways to make their workspace interesting and inspiring.

Never Rush Them

A rushed employee is an unhappy employee. As a matter of fact, if you ever throw rush work at your employees, you are making two mistakes. You are giving your employees hard expectations to meet, therefore making them panic, and you are also potentially risking the possibility of sending your client a subpar effort that has been rushed.

Never put your employees in this situation.

Keep Them Consistently Happy

When you can keep your employees happy, you have less of a chance of losing them to some other job. Also, happy employees are a great reflection of your brand. If you want people talking about how awesome your brand is, it starts with customer interaction with your employees.

What are some other basics that you can think of when it comes to keeping your employees motivated and working at top performance?

How Bacardi’s Story Helps Sell the Brand

bacardi_logo1If you want to find an example of a strong branding presence, look no further than BACARDÍ. What some people don’t realize is that the strongest part of the BACARDÍ brand lies in their story. In fact, much of their history is better than the fabricated ad campaigns of their competitors.

The BACARDÍ family has seen a tremendous amount of adversity, including earthquakes, wars and revolutions within their home country of Cuba, exile from that same country, fires and more. But still, the company still stands and is more popular than ever.

A recent campaign tells the story of their unique past in a series of ads that highlight the brand’s Untameable Spirit. A few phrases and taglines that are being used include:

  • Some Men are Kicked Out of Bars – Others are Kicked Out of Countries
  • We Remember Prohibition – It was a Blast!
  • Earthquakes, Fire, Exile, Prohibition – Sorry Fate, You Picked the Wrong Family.

This type of built in character is priceless. The ads basically write themselves. And they tend to resonate with the BACARDÍ audience because the ads and the family history tell the story of overcoming the odds and reaching for their goals and dreams no matter what.

Another good thing about these ads is that they contain simple messages that are easy to translate in the realm of all media, right down to basic billboards and posters.

According to BACARDÍ’s Senior Category Director, BACARDÍ is known for “its passionate drive, regardless of circumstance, convention or expectation.” He also believes that this new campaign works because it “pays tribute to the brand’s enduring popularity, continuing ingenuity and connects with consumers as it inspires them.”

The campaign is working towards building an “untameable” attitude, not just with the brand but with its consumers as well.

This is proof positive that your own personal story can often be the strongest lynchpin in your image. Think of the attributes of your own life and use your own struggles and personality to better define your brand.

Be Careful With Your Humor (and Your Booze)

Humor and advertising can be a very tricky pairing. When brands can get it to work, it can be incredibly successful. But when done wrong or without much tact, it can be disastrous. At its absolute worst, it can be offensive, wince-inducing and just downright stupid and harmful.

The trick is to go with your instincts. When it comes to humor in advertising, it is never a safe bet to use the current movie standards of comedy. It’s one thing to have risqué jokes and humor in movies; these are made up stories that we are watching in the privacy of our homes.

Advertising, on the other hand, is being seen by millions. And those jokes that are going public are a direct reflection of your brand. So while it is perfectly fine for Kevin Smith or Judd Apatow to make dick and fart jokes (it’s sort of a part of their brand, really), it’s not something you want to implement in your next marketing campaign.

Case in point…look at the following ad and tell us what’s wrong. If you don’t see it within three seconds, chances are that you are a terrible human being.


You read that right. That’s a blatant oral sex joke in a liquor ad. More than they, it suggests forced oral sex. Which is pretty close to rape.

This ad would have never worked anywhere, but the fact that it’s for a liquor company makes it about five times worse, considering that a lot of domestic abuse comes at the hands of those charming fellows that can’t handle their booze.

To make it even worse beyond that, this wasn’t an image that was placed in a magazine and then quickly taken back. No, it was posted to Belvedere’s Facebook and Twitter pages for the world to see.

So for some really open and honest conversation, do you see any way that this ad could have only been slightly altered…maybe even just the way it is was worded…where it might not have been so terrible?