Hot Take: No One Cares About Your Logo...

As a collective, we need to take some pressure off logos – don't get us wrong, they are essential to a business, but they really don’t need to work so hard. Let's focus on what drives your brand as a whole instead.

Over time, companies have started to get into the mindset that a logo, something that does nothing more than identify us–is incredibly important. And, it's true, it is very important. But, there's a lot more to it than meets the eye.

Truth is, logos on their own actually say nothing. While they can make people aware of your brand and are essential for discovery and recognition, they can’t tell your customers who you really are, or what you actually care about unless you purposefully build meaning into them!

Your logo alone is not your brand. Your brand is the experience your customers have (which includes a good logo) and then tell their friends about. All the best design and craft in the world can’t make a logo that will convince someone your company's product or service is great if it isn’t. That’s a job for advertising and marketing and website design, and all the other great things that go into starting a company and building a brand.

Don't take this the wrong way: We still need logos, but it’s not right to make a logo the foundation or the end-all be-all of your brand. It's simply a building block - or another tool in the tool chest of your company's brand strategy.

Here's an example of something more important than focusing all your attention on your logo: Experiential Identity -

You know what your customers will feel and experience? Why are you in business, what do you believe in, what are the values that drive your company, what’s the experience you want customers to have? Great brands are built from the inside out; they're built around a belief system and driven by values. What your customers experience every time they interact with your company is the "real" brand.

If your brand doesn’t have a purpose, then stop everything and find out what it is. Once you figure that out, you’ll see that everything’s definitely much easier.

Brands are multifaceted and shouldn’t be reliant on just one element (a logo) to be effective. Your visual identity is what you use to communicate the purpose, values, and ideas you have in your experiential identity. There are a lot of moving parts that work together to make it operate the right way.

Here's a good measuring stick to see how well your brand has been built from a both a visual and experiential identity: remove all your company's logos from your product(s), website(s), app, advertisements, social media accounts, etc. At the end of the day, your customers should still know it’s you. It's time to give the logo a little bit of a break.

digital advertising dead RIP

Digital Advertising Losing its Shine?

it’s 2018 and consumers don’t even need to think twice about ignoring the relentless, sometimes even intrusive, ads that clutter the Internet. Does that mean the age of digital advertising is coming to an end? Hardly.

Digital advertising has always been a relatively inexpensive and measurable way to directly target your company's audience - no matter how wide it's spread. But, as the call for a more accessible, free and less cluttered Internet begins to grow in demand more than ever, does this mean that digital advertising will lose its edge over traditional advertising?

What, exactly, is digital advertising anyway?

To help answer this question, we first need to define the (sometimes) relatively broad often interchangeable term "digital advertising". Basically, digital advertising is any form of marketing content that's displayed through the internet. These ads can be seen across web browsers, social media, search engines (like Google) and even built in to mobile games and apps. In the marketing mix, it's been a tool that has been essential to advertising for at least the last 25 years.

Digital (or "online") advertising takes shape in a variety of forms that are always evolving, but, here are the six most prominent types:

  1. Display ads: Think banner ads on websites, pop-up ads, and small-scale video "commercial style" advertisements that often appear on websites but are not necessarily related to the content of the website you're browsing.
  2. Search Engine Marketing (SEM): Paying for specific keywords so that when that keyword is searched, your website or content will be ranked higher on the results page.
  3. Native ads: Marketing messages that have been integrated into the platform that they appear on so they look "native" to the website (or app, etc...). Usually listed at the end of a post.
  4. Social media ads: Highly targeted messages or "sponsored content" style posts that are displayed on social networks like Facebook or Linkedin.
  5. Video ads: Video ads provide a way to tell a story in an immersive way. These are quickly becoming the most popular amongst marketers.
  6. Email marketing: A cheap and fast way to market to a very targeted audience through email messages. This is because marketers can have their choice in who receives this communication.


At first, the rise of digital advertising started to steal the attention away from traditional (think print, TV commercials) advertising because, for the first time, advertising mimicked the trusting nature of word-of-mouth. Brands could suddenly leverage the Internet to become ‘friends’ with their consumers (especially with the rise of social media) – who are ordinarily more likely to trust their "friends" or peers than they are a company or brand.

But this made the digital advertising space cluttered, leaving little breathing room for consumers to experience an actual website itself (remember the late 90's -early 2000's when websites were chock-full of all kinds of banner and pop up ads all over the place)... folks began to get overwhelmed. You could say the "bubble bursted" on early digital ad formats, so, the industry adapted and new formats became favored.

So, what's the deal for the future? 

Digital advertising, as a whole, not dead by a long shot. Instead, marketers should consider a form of digital advertising that provides value to the consumer – possibly in the way of content marketing, or, finding ways to engage consumers with campaigns that work both digitally and offline, for example. One thing’s for sure – digital advertising is here to stay. Maybe not in the form it was always intended, but certainly in the way of a novel and more mutually beneficial relationship between advertisers and consumers – one that few other marketing tools can match. So, next time you hear someone say "digital advertising is dead!" tell them they are wrong... way wrong.


build a brand

How to Build a Brand From Scratch

It is possible to build a brand from scratch successfully. However, it has become a lot more complex, and also a lot easier than ever before (depending on how you look at it). The millennials are a generation privileged with the upsides of the internet that allow them to bring their dreams alive with relative ease. While there are definitely more opportunities to launch a business today, failing in a cluttered 24/7 environment is actually quite easy to do.

One of the main factors in the success of a brand is its ability to carve its own niche and highlight that niche or difference to consumers. When launching a brand, there's a lot to keep in mind, but, here are some of the key factors entrepreneurs need to keep in mind while they being to launch their dreams:

build a brand planning strategy

1. Know and understand your target audience - It is extremely important to understand your target audience to define your brand. Keep in mind their demographics (age, gender, geographical location, income, education, occupation). This helps in crafting the right message and positioning of the brand.

2. Develop a strong key message for your defined audience - The right messaging is critical for building a brand, and only seems to become more crucial as the years pass. Instead of bombarding consumers with too many messages, giving out one key message for them to take away greatly increases the probability of brand recognition.

2. Know what sets your brand apart and stick to that - In order to give a distinct positioning to your brand, it's extremely important to identify what differences you're offering vs. your competitors (or potential competitors). You must be aware of what your competitors are doing in order to have a better hold on the next moves. It is essential to understand your brand and what customers expect out of your brand in the grand scheme of things.

4. Define your brand’s values - Defining your brand’s values helps you to better connect with consumers you want to reach. Humans have emotions, positioning your brand as a supporter of that emotion and the values associated with it gives you the edge to strengthen your brand image. For Example: Being a brand supporting gay rights, which is a topical issue, helps to connect with your customers -- of course, your values should always be aligned with your target market's values most importantly.

5. Listen to your customers/clients - The digital revolution has made it easy to communicate with customers and potential customers. Taking regular feedback from your consumers reduces the chances of any PR crisis and helps create an image of a customer-oriented brand.


Following these five keys of advice will assist you in creating a brand with a space for itself in the minds of consumers and set up your brand image. Building a brand from scratch requires diligent work, keeping in mind the end goal to do it effectively, one must be well versed with the market trends and blend them with the brand’s activities and campaigns. It's hard work to build a successful brand from scratch, and takes a lot of time, but it can definitely be done!


mobile advertising creative

Why Creative Matters in Mobile Advertising

In order for mobile app platforms to survive, it’s critical to continue achieving profitable user acquisition. However, mobile advertising is a constantly changing landscape.

What works for you today might not work for you tomorrow. 95% of your direct response creative advertising fails to outperform the best-performing assets in your portfolio. You are constantly working to find those 5% of successful creatives.

Over the past few years, machine learning on platforms like Facebook and Google has reduced the level of effort by advertisers to manage their ad targeting, bids, and budgets. Automation has leveled the playing field for advertisers, so much so that creative has now become the key differentiator.

Here are some of the latest creative techniques and best practices to keep your ad creative performing, and continuing to drive user acquisition and growth:

  • Do you have a creative brand ‘bible’?
  • How strict are you with that ‘bible’?
  • What’s your tone?
  • Who’s your audience?

It's surprising how few companies have thought about these questions that ultimately set the stage for creative development.

mobile advertising growth

Brand vs. Direct Marketing

Are you a brand or are you doing direct response advertising? CMOs often want to run brand campaigns and adhere to their brand bible with guidelines and restrictions. On the other hand, the UA team is incentivized by performance and will lean toward direct response. There is a way to meet in the middle and get the best of both worlds. It is important to consider that most of the videos and images in your creative will die in less than 10,000 impressions. If the winning creative happens to be one of the 5% of successful creatives, you can always revisit the creative and iterate to make it brand compliant. Through this process, you will also see the impact of making your ad creative brand compliant.

Types of Assets to Test

There’s a known approach to asset development of concepts versus variations and why you need one or the other. Concepts are brand new ideas, out-of-the-box thinking to develop something that hasn’t been tried before. It’s very difficult to develop fresh, new concepts. With variations, we’re taking that one in 5% successful creative winner. We know the creative is going to work, so instead, you will tear it apart like Legos and develop new creative assets, which often have a higher propensity to be successful.

Extend the Life of Your Ads

There’s a lot that you can do to extend the shelf life of your creative. Here are just some of the ways you can keep your creative fresh through testing variations:

  • Image Formats and Layouts: Showcase your product or service in several layouts.
  • Video Length and CTAs:Your video ads need to be in the rage of eight seconds or less. Your call to action should be in the first three seconds and it needs to be strong.
  • Types of Images: Consider taking your own photos or degrading the quality of the images and videos to make them appear user-generated (more authentic).
  • Color Uses in Images and Headers:Test simple and plain backgrounds with soft or blurred out colors or gradients. Allow the viewer’s eyes to focus on bright vibrant foreground colors. Test soft background colors vs bold colors, strong texture vs muted texture, and simple vs clean vs busy and cluttered backgrounds.


toys r us demise

The Demise of Toys R Us: What We Can Learn

If you’re like me, you’re definitely a “Toys R Us Kid”, so, seeing a once giant retailer like Toys R Us close its doors for good is a little heartbreaking. I spent a lot of time there in my childhood, and, while it was magical as a little kid, I haven’t been there in over a decade. It’s still sad nonetheless.

However, if we really look at it, it’s not all that surprising. Toys R Us has been heading down this path for a long, long time. There are probably numerous reasons as to why this is happening, including a massive amount of debt it was unable to over come, but, to me, none are more damning than Toys R Us’s obvious lack of innovation and executive’s reluctance to change and keep up with the times.

The once giant retail company filed bankruptcy in September of last year in order to restructure debt and introduce changes to be more “competitive”. The advances, which included in-store augmented reality games and children’s playrooms, proved to be ineffective — not to mention a at least a few years too late — in attracting more shoppers from the comforts of their couches this past holiday season.

toys r us demise

The simple truth is, Toys R Us put itself in this situation. The blame falls squarely on management’s shoulders. Over the last two decades while the internet was starting to boom, e-commerce started becoming commonplace, smartphones in every consumers pockets became the new norm, and social media took off, Toys R Us failed to innovate its business model, incorporate technology, or adapt to changing consumer behavior… and it did them in!

Retail stores in general have been suffering for years, trying to stay relevant and bring something new to the table as folks begin shopping more and more with online retailers like eBay and Amazon right at the tip of their fingers. No one NEEDS to leave their house to go shopping for much anymore, especially toys, so retailers have had to up their games to compete. They’ve had to add immersive shopping experiences to their stores that consumers just won’t find online.

A prime example of a toy store embracing change and keeping up with this philosophy is American Girl. Little girls love American Girl dolls and are excited about going shopping in American Girl stores. The company created an upscale, immersive shopping experience featuring doll hair and beauty salons,  photo studios, and even cafes that you can only get in their stores. They provide entertainment – and that’s what really keeps people coming back into the store.

Toys R Us lagged far behind in terms of innovating and bringing new shopping experiences to the table. Why would people shop there when they could easily buy the same toys on a trip to Walmart or Target to get milk? Why would someone chose to go out of their way to go to a Toys R Us store when they could find the same toys online for much cheaper? The answer: most wouldn’t and this is the result.

Toys R Us Aisle

While it is sad, the ending of a company like Toys R Us, which has been an icon in American culture for quite sometime can teach retail brands and organizations a few simple but important points. While price points are important, they are not the end-all-be-all in consumers minds. Creating innovative, memorable, and immersive shopping experiences for consumers is becoming more and more important if traditional retailers want to keep up with the Amazon’s of the world. Putting items on a shelf in a big room full of aisles is not enough anymore. People want experiences – like the kind you can get at the Apple Store, Build-a-Bear Workshop, or the American Girl store.

If other traditional brick-and-mortor retailers are to stick around and be successful in our mobile and internet obsessed wold, they need to be able to adapt quickly, innovate, and plan for the future in ways they hadn’t thought about before – or, they could be heading for a slow, painful death. Just like Toys R Us. #RIP

marketing advertising branding difference

Marketing, Advertising, & Branding... What's the Difference?

In this line of work, I oftentimes hear clients and prospective clients confuse marketing, advertising, and branding, and they also tend to use the terms interchangeably.

This usually makes me cringe just a little bit, because, while all three of these things may be a part of the bigger-picture plan, using them interchangeably like this grossly oversimplifies the deeper meaning and more complex concepts behind an effective marketing strategy. To understand marketing and the difference between these three concepts, it helps to look at yourself and try to apply each one to you as a person.


Marketing can be though of as how you see yourself. It is the image that you are trying to present to others around you. In this analogy, things like how you dress, how you groom, and the colors and patterns you chose to wear all play a part. We all have a strategy for this (even if we don’t consciously realize it). Even not having a so-called strategy for your appearance is a marketing strategy in itself.

You choose your image to portray yourself as a business professional, a punk rocker, a tech nerd, etc., and by doing so, you are expressing to others your character, attributes, and in the end, the value you offer to others, all through your appearance.

For a business, a marketing strategy considers how you want others to perceive your company. It should convey the vision and of the business and express it in a way that the public will recognize and begin to associate with your company.

How you “dress” (or market) your company will determine how effectively your message and image will be accepted by consumers you want to reach.


Advertising is how you act in public. While marketing describes how you see yourself, advertising describes how you act around others. Where you hang out, who you hang out with, how you carry yourself, and what you say are just as important as how you look. All of this should be considered with your marketing strategy to assure that you have consistency between your image and your actions (remember: actions speak louder than words)!

Your business advertising strategy is the just like this. If you execute it in the wrong places, with the wrong message and tone, at the wrong times, or to the wrong audience, it will tend to confuse consumers and could turn your audience away (AKA – don’t be a hypocrite.)


Branding is how others see you, and, the good news is you can help influence this through marketing (how you see yourself) and advertising (how you act in public). If you have a strong brand, you can spend more time building on it. If you have reputation problems, however, you will need to focus on rebuilding or changing other’s perceptions of you.

For example, if your professional network believes you are a ‘fraud’ or a ‘slacker’, then it will require more than just dressing professionally and mastering your LinkedIn profile to change this perception. You’ll need to re-work and re-stratgise your personal marketing and advertising.

When it comes to business, understanding how your audience and consumers perceive your business is critical for how you decide to execute a marketing and advertising strategy. This is why the branding component of this equations is so important.

To sum it all up…

While I just oversimplified complex marketing concepts quite a bit, I find that applying these concepts as an analogy to ourselves creates an effective and simple way to explain how each of these three concepts can and should be applied to your business.