Opinions about branding by Dr. Dannielle Blumenthal

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Thursday, October 19, 2017

I left this stunning bag because I simply ran out of money to buy things. You can still get it.

I also left all this stuff.

All this for less than the price of a decent shirt at a fine firsthand retail establishment.

I am wearing a blouse from ThredUp now. I feel good knowing that my clothes are better than usual, and they didn't break the bank.

If you have the brains to shop secondhand, ThredUp has unbelievable stuff. And they package it beautifully.

Use my link to get started and you will get 10% off. Search online for promo codes and you may get a deep discount off your first order as well.


*Sponsored post. Copyright 2017 by Dannielle Blumenthal, Ph.D. All opinions are Dr. Blumenthal's own. All rights reserved.

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

A collection of sites offering free photos. Gathered primarily from:
I tried to scrub the list as best I could, but this may contain some errors. Feel free to mix and match with your own.
  1. Agricultural Research Service
  2. Air Force
  3. America's Historical Documents - Images and Transcripts
  4. Ancestry Images
  5. Architect of the Capitol Flickr
  6. Army
  7. BigFoto
  8. Biomedical Images from the National Library of Medicine
  9. Bureau of Land Management
  10. Cascades Volcano Observatory
  11. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Public Health
  12. Central Intelligence Agency Flickr
  13. Coast Guard
  14. CompFight
  15. Consumer Financial Protection Bureau
  16. Creative Commons Image Search
  17. Customs and Border Protection
  18. Death to the Stock Photo
  19. Defense and International Relations
  20. Defense Department
  21. Defense Intelligence Agency
  22. Defense Intelligence Agency Flickr
  23. Defense Video & Imagery Distribution System
  24. Defense Visual Information
  25. DefenseLink (click on Photos/Videos) 
  26. Department of Energy - Photo Galleries
  27. Department of Energy Flickr
  28. Department of the Treasury
  29. DoD Joint Combat Camera Center 
  30. DoD News Photos
  31. Earth as Art
  32. Energy Department's Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy
  33. Energy Department's Energy Technology Visuals Collection
  34. Environment, Energy, and Agriculture
  35. EveryStockPhoto (choose Advanced Search to restrict licensing)
  36. Federal Bureau of Investigation
  37. Federal Emergency Management Agency Photo Library
  38. Federal Register Flickr
  39. Flags of the World 
  40. Flickr "U.S. Government Works" Search
  41. Flickr Commons
  42. Forestry Images
  43. Free Digital Photos
  44. Free Images
  45. Free Photos Bank
  46. Free Pik
  47. Free Range Stock
  48. FreeFoto (free for non-commercial use)
  49. FreeImages.com
  50. FreeMediaGoo
  51. Google Image Search (Licensed for Non-Commercial Re-Use)
  52. Government Publishing Office
  53. Gratisography
  54. Homeland Security
  55. IM Free
  56. ImageAfter
  57. ImageBase 
  58. ImageFree
  59. Images from the History of Public Health by the National Library of Medicine
  60. Immigration and Customs Enforcement
  61. Kozzi 
  62. Library of Congress
  63. Life of Pix
  64. Maps (Site with many links to map sources) 
  65. Marines
  66. Money
  67. Morguefile
  68. MorgueFile - photo archive for creatives by creatives
  69. NASA – Great Images
  70. NASA Photos
  71. NASA's Earth Observatory
  72. National Agricultural Library's Special Collections
  73. National Archives Online Catalog
  74. National Cancer Institute
  75. National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine
  76. National Cryptological Museum Photos Gallery (Facebook)
  77. National Defense University Govt Photo Links
  78. National Eye Institute images
  79. National Eye Institute's Photo, Image, and Video Catalog
  80. National Gallery of Art Images
  81. National Geospatial Intelligence Agency
  82. National Guard
  83. National Human Genome Research Institute Photo Gallery
  84. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases
  85. National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases
  86. National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering
  87. National Institute of General Medical Sciences
  88. National Institute of Mental Health
  89. National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) Flickr
  90. National Institutes of Health
  91. National Institutes of Health Flickr
  92. National Institutes of Standards and Technology Laboratory Research
  93. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
  94. National Park Service Flickr
  95. National Park Service Historic Photo Collection
  96. National Register of Historic Places Flickr
  97. National Science Foundation
  98. National Science Foundation Flickr
  99. National Security Agency Photo Gallery
  100. National Transportation Safety Board Flickr
  101. Navy
  102. New Old Stock
  103. NIH Image Bank
  104. NIH Photo Gallery
  105. NOAA National Marine Sanctuary Photo Library
  106. NOAA Ocean Explorer Media Gallery
  107. NOAA Ocean Service Photo Library
  108. NOAA's photo library
  109. Nothing but Black Helicopters
  110. Office of the Director of National Intelligence
  111. Office of the Director of National Intelligence Flickr
  112. Official Portrait of the President
  113. OpenPhoto
  114. Peace Corps Digital Library
  115. Penn State's Free Media Library
  116. Pexels
  117. PicFindr (mixture of CC, PD, GNU, etc)
  118. PicJumbo
  119. Pixabay
  120. Pond5 Public Domain Project
  121. Public Domain Pictures
  122. Public Health Image Library from the CDC (Centers for Disease Control & Prevention)
  123. Public image free library
  124. Public Safety and Law
  125. Red Cross photo library
  126. Rgbstock
  127. Royalty Free Icons and Clipart Stock Images http://icons.mysitemyway.com/
  128. Satellite images 
  129. Secret Service
  130. Smithsonian Images
  131. Snapwire Snaps
  132. Start Up Stock Photos
  133. State Department
  134. State Photo and Multimedia Galleries
  135. StockSnap.io
  136. Stockvault
  137. SumAll
  138. Superfamous
  139. The National Archives
  140. The National Science Foundation’s Multimedia Gallery
  141. The Public Domain Project 
  142. The U.S. Army Field Band
  143. The White House Flickr
  144. U.S Navy Flickr
  145. U.S. Agency for International Development Flickr
  146. U.S. Air Force Flickr
  147. U.S. Army Flickr
  148. U.S. Army Women’s Museum
  149. U.S. Capitol Photos
  150. U.S. Department Defense
  151. U.S. Department of Agriculture Flickr
  152. U.S. Department of Agriculture Photo Gallery
  153. U.S. Department of Defense Office of Inspector General
  154. U.S. Department of Health & Human Services Flickr
  155. U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development Flickr
  156. U.S. Department of State Flickr
  157. U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs Flickr 
  158. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Flickr
  159. U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
  160. U.S. Geological Survey
  161. U.S. Marine Corps Flickr 
  162. U.S. Mint
  163. U.S. National Archives Flickr
  164. U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission Flickr
  165. United Launch Alliance
  166. United Nations News & Media (Photos)
  167. United States Antarctic Program
  168. United States Government Manual Covers
  169. Unsplash
  170. USA.gov - U.S. States Photo Galleries
  171. USA.gov Federal Agency Flickr 
  172. USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service Identification Technology Program
  173. USDA APHIS ITP Image Node at Bugwood
  174. USGS Multimedia Gallery
  175. Vecteezy
  176. Vector Scout
  177. White House Photo Gallery
  178. Wikimedia Commons
  179. World Flag Database 
  180. YouTheDesigner
Public domain. Photo by congerdesign via Pixabay.

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Recently this Israeli eatery opened in Rockville. 

Let's begin with the fact that the food is excellent. You'll pay a little bit, but you won't go home hungry or unsatisfied.

We happen to get the shwarma. (Food photos and reviews at Yelp; here is a helpful listing of all the kosher restaurants in the Washington, DC area.)

I visited the eatery several times. When it's not too crowded, the narrow space between the cash register and the wall is tolerable. One time there were a lot of people there, and the experience was uncomfortable for me.
Recently I took a trip to Israel, and was in Petach Tikva to change dollars to Israeli shekels. The crowding was noticeable and uncomfortable for me there as well. 

The Israelis did not seem to mind it, and pushed their way past me. This happened when I got on the public bus too.

Clearly, operating in a small busy space is not my comfort zone, and the employees at Oh Mama do not have that luxury either.

But as I say, I've been there several times, and they do not seem to mind. 

Sometimes when I go there, I can see them sitting together outside, and then when customers appear, they go back in.

There is some thought about the customer here. Most of the people behind the counter are facing a food preparation area when they work. So they wear T-shirts that say, "My Back Is To You, But My Heart Is With You."

Let's look at the menu board for a second. Do you know what any of this is? Can you read it quickly?

Neither can I. 
But it doesn't really matter whether you can read it or not. You can't see much of the food you're getting on your shwarma either. 

This is where the best aspect of the restaurant becomes clear. The eatery is run by Israelis, and Israelis are very generous people. 

When we go there, we just ask for our food and say "everything."

(Notice the tzedaka, or charity, box up front. Nice touch.)
I do not recommend that you order the food remotely. They have a couple of food delivery service stickers in the window. But I got a more generous portion when I personally stood there waiting for the food. 
Overall, if you're anywhere in the area and you like Middle Eastern food, you're going to be happy if you eat at Oh Mama Grill.

This is not a paid endorsement, by the way. None of my posts are, unless I tell you otherwise.


Copyright 2017 by Dannielle Blumenthal, Ph.D. All opinions are Dr. Blumenthal's own. All rights reserved. Photos by Dr. Blumenthal.

Monday, October 9, 2017

Sometimes the brand is the neighborhood.

We were taking a walk today and saw these new homes under construction. 

The development is Grosvenor Heights, by Sandy Spring Builders. 

It’s kind of hard to tell from my photos but the houses have a quaint charm.

There were people sitting on the front steps of one home. I asked how much they cost.

More than a million dollars.

$1,000,000 plus.

“You’re kidding,” I breathed, looking at the unfinished front of one of them.


I walked around the property and took more photos. It’s actually a beautiful area near the Grosvenor stop of the Red Line, in suburban Maryland near DC.

The homes toward the inside were actually my favorite. Those, I really loved, with the modern square look as well as the elevated porches.

This house was nice too. You’re literally getting the white picket fence.

So why would you pay a million dollars for a home in DC? And it isn’t even full brick, or stone?

It’s new, it’s modern, it’s in an exclusive zip code, and your kids will go to good schools.

For more information about the development, check out the builders’ website: http://grosvenorheights-ssb.com/
Copyright 2017 by Dr. Dannielle Blumenthal. All opinions are the author’s own. Photos by Dr. Blumenthal.

Sunday, October 8, 2017

If you just want to see the photos, go to the album
You can download them for free with attribution.

Today we visited the Washington DC Design House, where the area's top local designers pitch in their talents to create a model home for public viewing, with all the proceeds going to charity.

It was an opportunity to a) see the inside of a mansion b) take a lot of photos c) talk to actual designers about the work that they do.

Karen Snyder, of Interiors of Washington (pictured above) designed Area 14, the "Traveler's Retreat." She talked to me about her style, which is a mix of modern, traditional, and "transitional." I asked her what "transitional" means and she said it bridges the gap between the first two.

Basically, she does what the client wants.

Snyder designed the ottoman sitting in front of her. She told me all the details and to be honest with you, they went over my head. But the cost for two of them runs into the thousands, and I have to tell you, the piece really defined the room.

Melanie Hansen, of Margery Wedderburn Interiors, designed Area 2, the "Living Room." She was nice enough to let me take her picture and to talk about her designs. The photo is included because she personifies a strong personal brand. She seems professional, highly qualified, and practiced in the art of posing for the camera without seeming too artificial.

The most notable thing about the room she designed is the pink lollipop statue. Everyone was looking at it and talking about it, probably because it gives off a vaguely naughty air.

Designers seem very into how they found things. As an observer, I frankly tune that stuff out.

I was interested in this blue velour chair in Area 7, "The Study Royale." Lorna Gross, of Lorna Gross Interior Design (contact@lornagross.com), told me that the entire room was designed around this cheap-looking chair, which somehow also comes off as luxurious.

For me, it was the color that just totally popped. I couldn't look away from it.

Here is a look at Area 3, the "Dining Room." The design is by Susan M. Jamieson, at Bridget Beari Designs. 

This room is not so much my taste, but then again I'm not the target audience. I don't get invited to mansions very much...er, make that never.

On the other hand a well-designed bathroom (a.k.a. "powder room") is a thing of beauty. I loved the dark walls against the soothing light and spare white design of this one, by Mary Amons at Mary Amons Design.

Assistant Ryan M. Van Sickel was standing outside and nodded proudly when I asked if this design was his.

There were some interesting characters at this event. Designer Camille Saum, of Camille Saum Interior Design, dressed a bit eccentrically but if you're rich, I think this means that you're a genius.

I did have fun teasing the rich people. At the cafe they were selling these "sandwiches" at $6 for four. "So these aren't sliders, right?" I said to the attendant. "They're munchers."

She didn't think that was funny.

We didn't love the designers' taste in everything. Again, I think this must be a rich Washingtonian thing...the overall concept was "heavy."

But you have to consider that to these people, a garage sale means blazers that cost $172.

I'm throwing in this one from Meena Tharmaratnam at Ibhana Creations, even though I don't know the exact price, because she was very friendly to me.

Let me say that Area 10, "Modern Professional's Stylish Retreat" (which looks like a girl's bedroom) was a was a stunner. The designer, of Anthony Wilder Design/Build, had to wave them off with a stick. Just look at that stunning mini-couch with a Vogue on it.
Designers can sometimes have weird taste in art. Below is one of the pieces I saw. Not all people would appreciate it, but I totally loved it. It's from Area 9, "The Collector's Cabinet," designed by Josh Hildreth of Josh Hildreth Interiors.

Overall I would definitely recommend taking a visit to this secluded mansion in Potomac. It's all for a good cause. The show ends October 29, 2017.


Copyright 2017 by Dannielle Blumenthal, Ph.D. All opinions are Dr. Blumenthal's own. All rights reserved. Photos by me.

Sunday, October 1, 2017

A Known Name Facilitates An Unknown Purchase

A relatively new academic paper, based on both experimental and field-based research, suggests that early adopters prefer existing brand names for cutting-edge products vs. new brand names for less innovative products.

Obviously, the choice of a name is part of a brand strategy and as the article notes, "choice of an appropriate branding strategy is a critical determinant of new product success."

The researchers note that their findings echo prior research suggesting that when it comes to buying a product they don't know, it is reassuring to find it wrapped in a name they are familiar with.

The issue at hand is whether existing brands should gamble their equity on a new high-technology offering, which may or may not be successful.

For Further Reading

Yann Truong, Richard R. Klink, Geoff Simmons, Amir Grinstein, Mark Palmer, Branding strategies for high-technology products: The effects of consumer and product innovativeness, In Journal of Business Research, Volume 70, 2017, Pages 85-91, ISSN 0148-2963, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jbusres.2016.07.003.(http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0148296316304805)
Keywords: Innovation; Branding; Consumer innovativeness; Product innovativeness; High-technology products


Copyright 2017 by Dannielle Blumenthal, Ph.D. All opinions are Dr. Blumenthal's own. All rights reserved. Photo by qimono via Pixabay (CC0 Creative Commons).

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

"I can't tell if you're crazy or just stupid," said the head of Public Affairs. "Why would you put a girl in a 3D printed bikini on Twitter? We're a government agency."

"I dunno."

"We had to pull that one back. It created all sorts of problems."

But it was great.

The other thing that got me in trouble was a Willy Wonka tweet, a meme about advanced manufacturing.

"Now the Wall Street Journal wants to talk to you! Don't you ever worry about what you will say?"


"Well what if they get into questions about another program, one that has nothing to do with your 'unique' communications strategy?"

"I dunno."

"You don't know."


"Are we done yet?"

There is a habit I have of getting on people's nerves sometimes.

It's like the other day when I went to the SPX conference in North Bethesda (this was sort of like a mini Comic-Con). 

I ended up triggering one of the presenters.

The person was standing with two other people, who were sitting, and they all looked to me like men.

Clearly, they were men. They had male facial hair. 


They were dressed in women's clothing.

You have to know that I do not really care about this. 

Even from a moral point of view, even as an Orthodox Jew, I truly do not care what other people choose to do with their private life, sex or sexuality as long as they aren't forcing someone and as long as they aren't perving after kids.

In a previous post I discussed my brief interaction with this person, who said to me that he fantasized about "punching a Nazi."

"I'm a Trump supporter, and I'm not a Nazi," I said. "Can I take your picture for my blog?"

This resulted in a blog pic showing a very upset looking person.

So I went back and said, "The picture was bad, are you uncomfortable?

"Uh...as a transgender Jewish woman I don't want to talk about this right now." 

My facial expression must have registered my shock. 

This person does not know he is a man.

"I'm a Jewish woman too," I said.

And we just stood there for a minute, probably both thinking different things (other person: I want to punch her; me: well, this is awkward, but I wonder what's gonna happen next).

Truly, the desire to buy and sell things--by having your brand recognized, trusted, desired and preferred--can make even the most wildly divergent people get along.

One of the most important ingredients a brand can have is consistency.

When it comes to personal branding, the trick is to be your complete self, your whole self, all the time.

Along these lines I live by the advice of communications guru Shel Holtz, who said the following about social media in a seminar he taught fifteen years ago:

"Say as much as you can, and then say when you can't say any more."

The same is true for personal branding.

You want to go very far--right to the edge of the self, if you can--and take the audience there along with you.

The trick is knowing when you have gone too far.

It's a line everybody has to judge for themselves.


By Dannielle Blumenthal, Ph.D. All opinions are the author's own. This is a personal account unrelated to and not sponsored by the author's employer or any other entity. The author shares this content for reuse under the Creative Commons 3.0 License. For more information: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/us/. Public domain photo by StockSnap via Pixabay.

Saturday, September 16, 2017

Here are some photos from today's Small Press Expo in North Bethesda, Maryland, "The Premiere Event for Indie Comics, Cartooning & Graphic Novels." It was a great opportunity to learn more about this industry and its artists and I was completely blown away by the level of talent at the show.

As a Trump supporter one thing that struck me pretty quickly was how much of a given it is that you will loathe our current President. Or at least make fun of him. Here is R. Sikoryak (@RSikoryak) with his book, The Unquotable Trump.

I like a good joke as much as anybody else and thought the book was awesome.

Here is Annamaria Ward (@annamariaward on Twitter, Instagram and Tumblr), an illustrator and graphic designer who studies at George Mason University. I instantly loved her "I can't believe I still have to protest this crap" illustration, and we talked briefly about it. While Anna's presentation of self and art was somewhat muted, many artists used the event as a way to showcase political beliefs and support for gender diversity specifically.

Another artist who combined political commentary with humor was Rosscott (@Rosscott)--I loved the line "Comics Will Be Published Until Morale Improves." Not wanting to make any assumptions, I asked if this had anything to do with politics and got the nod. The energy of the exhibit, the humor, the simplicity and the modern edge of the messages on the T-shirts all caught my attention.

The overall vibe at this exhibit, along with others made me think a lot. It's great to get marketing insights out of an event, but even more valuable as a person to reflect once in a while on how important our artists actually are. They force us to get past the surface. They force us to understand the humanity in other people--how they perceive the world.

At the SuperButch exhibit, I got to talk to artist/cartoonist Becky Hawkins and writer Barry Deutsch about "36 Annoying Anti-Feminists I've Met On The Internet." Quickly realizing that I was a fish out of water here, but wanting to be upfront, I told them that I was both a feminist and a Trump supporter and watched them politely stifle a laugh.

What a different world we travel in, when we inhabit opposite sides of the political spectrum. I remember my days in New York as a college student. I would have considered myself one of them.

I had to add this photo of Faft (his website is supposedly faftkingdom.com, but it doesn't seem to work from my browser).  I asked him if he had always drawn monsters with people and he said "I didn't know you could distinguish monsters from people."

Great line!

At the other end of the spectrum in terms of being marketing-ready, Jeremy Nguyen (@jeremywins) had a carefully crafted business card ready and was genuinely appreciative of the opportunity to get the word out. He didn't even flinch when I asked the obvious: "Bushwick refers to Brooklyn, right?"

How am I judging all this art? Easy - by the cover.

Over at Cuddles and Rage, Liz Reed let me take this photo of her with a piece of art that resonated perfectly with me. Yes! That hard shell! Smiling on the outside while inside we cry. The concept of warm love and its opposite, anger. It moved me.

This is Abby Howard (@abbyhoward) who seemed so comfortable, so present marketing herself without even saying a word that I had to ask if she made a living at this. Yes, in fact, she told me that she does live full-time as an artist. I can't say that I captured every revenue stream, but was struck at the brand equity she seems to have built up in that people actually pay her to get sneak previews of her art--in such quantities that it seems her rent is taken care of.

That is impressive!

It was noteworthy, given the diversity of the crowd, that there seemed to be so few African-American artists represented. I don't know if this is a reflection on the larger art world or not, but my gut tells me that it is.

I can't tell you exactly what it means--unless it might be to take a guess that adult comics resonate with Caucasians somehow.

One artist who is not pictured here is Bitmap Prager (@BMPrager), who writes Ashen Princess. I asked what the comic was about, and the answer was a little hard to follow, but you can read more here. 

I did catch the part about "Punch a Nazi" though, at which point I mentioned that I am a Trump supporter. The immediate reaction was pretty bad, and for a minute I thought I was going to get my face punched in (seriously...just for a second there I was worried). I ended up taking a picture, but the photo was clearly not welcome, and clearly neither was I. So after a brief dialogue it was agreed that I would simply delete it.

That said, what I learned from this brief interchange was so incredibly important. There is a perception among Trump supporters that the extreme left wants to censor anyone who doesn't agree with their views. I am not sure that is the case. Rather, my impression was that the world now feels less safe for certain people (or perhaps certain groups of people) with President Trump in charge. Given this, it is probably as important to focus on these perceptions--thoughts and feelings--as it is to focus on the facts.

All in all, it was a great event and a great educational opportunity. The big message of the day is this, as written on the T-shirt:

"Art might upset you. Sometimes it's supposed to."

No matter what it is you feel strongly about, you have the right to feel it.

I hope you take the time to express it in some way for the rest of us.

Thanks to all the artists who let me take their photos for the blog today. An album is available here.


By Dannielle Blumenthal, Ph.D. All opinions are the author's own. This is a personal account unrelated to and not sponsored by the author's employer or any other entity. The author shares this content for reuse under the Creative Commons 3.0 License. For more information: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/us/.

Friday, September 15, 2017

They say that public speaking is more terrifying than death for many people and this is the same reason why, more often than not, your presentations are terrible.

It’s not that you don’t know your subject matter. You probably know it better than the back of your hand.

It’s not that you aren’t prepared, either. Most likely you’re not only studied-up, but probably spent a little too much time hitting the books before your big Ted Talk or senior briefing.

The problem has nothing to do with you. The truth is that while some of us are clearly more theatrical than others, presentation skill is a skill that can be learned.

So why are you so bad at it? Why is your audience changing the channel, at least mentally, for 99% of your talk?

The issue is a basic flaw in your thinking. Please, rinse and repeat the following four words:




If you get up there thinking about yourself, I can tell you right now: your talk will have zero impact. Or worse.

The reason great speakers affect us so much is that they are totally swept up in the power of their message.

It is impossible to focus on yourself and also put the spotlight on a topic that matters.

Fear of public speaking is a sign that you’re definitely making this mistake. Your negative emotional investment is a gigantic red flag, signaling that your talk is wrapped around your ego.

The next time you have to give a talk, subtract yourself from the equation. You can prepare to do this in a very simple way — start doing videos.

No, you don’t have to publish them on YouTube or Periscope or wherever.

You should however practice the art of speaking into the camera, on a regular basis. And then play back the video, to see what you look like while talking.

The point is not to evaluate your performance as a speaker.

It’s also not to gauge whether you know what the hell you’re talking about.

Rather, it’s about getting used to the fact that you actually look pretty bad on video.

Once you accept and get over that fact, and also manage to swallow your many flaws as a speaker, you’ll get past your preoccupation with self altogether.

The truth is that the thing you fear the most is actually very real. You aren’t all that good, you have a million flaws, and when you stand up there people know it.

It’s ceasing to care that allows you to focus on the topic at hand.

I am Jewish, and I happen to have a big nose. It used to embarrass me and I seriously considered a nose job.

Now I like to laugh. That’s me, that’s my schnozz, that’s the sun dancing off my wrinkles.

It’s okay to go gray and to grow a potbelly, too.

What people really do care about is the beating heart inside you.

Good intentions, married with good thinking, is what carries society forward.

Our most pro-social instincts go to work when we see you on stage.

Be a part of the solution and not the problem.

Get over your ego and put your message out front.


Posted by Dannielle Blumenthal on September 15, 2017. All opinions are the author’s own. This post is hereby released into the public domain. Graphic by geralt via Pixabay (Public Domain).

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

The following is adapted from my comment on "The Future of Brands Is No Brands - Here's Why" by Laurence van Elegem (September 11, 2011 on LinkedIn):


1) If you are choosing between two intermediary brands, then branding still matters. 

2) I do think there is merit to the argument that technology intermediaries are guiding our brand choices, but what I see is that consumers question their uses of specific branded technologies (and alter their use behavior) based on brand perceptions. 

--For example, use of Google's search engine is currently a hot topic due to the perception that the company censors search results. As such there is a counter-movement towards DuckDuckGo. 

--Twitter vs. Gab, same thing. 

And we haven't even talked about the ways in which news intermediaries, brands in and of themselves, are chosen and abandoned.

3) As to companies like Brandless, I just don't see any evidence that people prefer them. 

Me, I like to go to the store and seek out brands that I know will deliver what I want or that look interesting. 

Ultimately, "No Branding" is Communist - it doesn't tell me anything at all. 

Brings to mind that old Wendy's commercial - "SWIMWEAR!"

Think it through before making proclamations.


Opinions my own. Posted September 12, 2017. Public domain. 

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Behave with good character. Character is the basis of your personal brand. Without it there is no trust and without trust all comes crashing down.
Educate yourself and gain experience in your field of endeavor.
Create a social media presence that shows your skills. A good LinkedIn profile with 5 references is a good place to start. Don't forget a professional profile photo.
Attend and contribute to industry groups. Network with other like-minded people.
Narrow and focus your goal. What do you want to be known for? Everything you do should connect to that.
Share your successes on your LinkedIn profile.
Contribute to a social cause you believe in and share that as well.
Good luck.

(Originally posted to Quora)


By Dannielle Blumenthal, Ph.D. All opinions are the author's own. This is a personal account unrelated to and not sponsored by the author's employer or any other entity. The author shares this content for reuse under the Creative Commons 3.0 License. For more information: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/us/.
Sharing the answer I posted to Quora:

HR is a subset of business management. Ideally HR is functioning to: 
  1. recruit talent aligned with the organization’s culture and operational needs 
  2. orient employees once onboard
  3. develop their skills in a way that supports the business
  4. weed out poor performers
  5. inform employees of news they need
  6. proactively seek employee and executive feedback on issues related to engagement, culture and skill alignment
  7. manage disputes and complaints
  8. manage separation in a way that maintains a positive relationship between the ex-employee and the organization
  9. conduct outreach to alumni of the organization
  10. ensure compliance with legal requirements especially those related to diversity and inclusion (this includes advocating for requirements that should be met, e.g. nondiscrimination policies that protect the LGBT community).


By Dannielle Blumenthal, Ph.D. All opinions are the author's own. This is a personal account unrelated to and not sponsored by the author's employer or any other entity. The author shares this content for reuse under the Creative Commons 3.0 License. For more information: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/us/.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Today I released The Brand Council 2017 - Essentials. It is a concise update on the essentials behind this concept and how they might work in our rapidly changing environment.

Posted August 15, 2017 by Dannielle Blumenthal, Ph.D. All opinions are the author's own. This is a personal account unrelated to and not sponsored by the author's employer or any other entity. Content is released into the public domain.

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

I’ve heard a lot of excuses for bad communication in my life. (Branding, communication, public relations, marketing….call it what you want, it all comes down to the same thing.)

The bottom line is this. If you’re paying another human being, or a group of human beings, to make words and pictures and moving digital things on your behalf — to make you look good — then it does not behoove you to dismiss the expertise of those very people. 

Because the people out there, you know, the great unwashed masses, they don’t care about your excuses or why you couldn’t get past yourself to do the right thing.

And when it comes to communication, that thing is always to express the totality of the organization. 

The good, the bad, and the ugly, from the fun and fluffy ribbon-cuttings to the boring, incomprehensible financial disclosures.

So if you are saying any of the following things to your communicators, either expressly or implicitly, you might want to reconsider the utility to your organization (e.g., is it worth it). 

Because the bottom line is — nobody wants to hear it.

Category I. Denial (a.k.a. “Nothing To See Here, Let’s Move On”)
  • “Historically we’ve never done things that way.”
  • “Communication doesn’t deal with policy or legal matters. ”
  • “We don’t need social media in our news clips. Nobody reads Twitter and Facebook.”
  • “Don’t you think you’re being a bit melodramatic?”
  • “Why do we have to talk about this if nobody asked?”
Category II. Stall For Time 
  • “Why don’t you ask X for permission and tell me what they say?”
  • “Our partners have to agree to that first.”
  • “Above my pay grade.”
  • “I don’t know who’s in charge of making that decision.”
  • “Would never get past the lawyers.”
Category III. Blame Lack of Resources
  • “Can’t afford it.”
  • “Don’t have time.”
  • “We already have a strategy.”
Category IV: Invoke Superiority
  • “I’m the expert. I don’t need you to tell me how to communicate.”
  • “Our stakeholders have their own way of thinking about things.”
  • “Why on earth would we ever say bad things about ourselves?”
  • “That’s not what communication is.”
  • “That’s an oversimplification.”
Category V: Attack The Communicator
  • “You have no business writing up that kind of concept and submitting it.”
  • “You do realize this is the government, right?”
  • “You do realize we’re a private company, right? Why do I want to promote the ideas of other people?”
  • “Why don’t you work on your Microsoft Word skills first?”
Posted on July 25, 2017 by Dannielle Blumenthal, Ph.D. All opinions are the author’s own. This blog is hereby released into the public domain. Public domain photo by annca via Pixabay.

Monday, July 24, 2017

When you represent an organization, you represent everything: You cannot pick and choose. 

To better understand this, see below:
1. Every organization is a brand.
2. Every brand communicates overtly and covertly.
3. Customers pick up on all forms of communication.
4. Customers form perceptions based primarily on the stuff you DON'T OR WON'T SAY.
5. Knowing this, it is vital to empower your communicators to represent you in all aspects - responding to public concerns that you did not know about, did not anticipate, do not like, and that frankly may even seem insane.

By Dannielle Blumenthal, Ph.D. All opinions are the author's own. This is a personal account unrelated to and not sponsored by the author's employer or any other entity. The author shares this content for reuse under the Creative Commons 3.0 License. For more information: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/us/.

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

I decided a long time ago not to feel anything.

Because feeling meant pain.

It meant that I would get my heart ripped out of me.

For a long time, I guess, my strategy worked.

As my mom used to say, when she was angry at me -

"You are cold as ice."

But her words, sharp and incisive, went past me. Life was challenging for me, it was hard to deal with other people and we had a lot of drama at home.

I simply could not risk going there.

All of that is water under the bridge now, thank God.

To the point where now, I easily cry.

I cry at TV commercials!

What made it safe for me to feel again?

The gift of people, experiences and material support that He has placed in my path.

But along the way I've learned that most people bear their suffering in total and complete silence.

Unlike babies, who cry, they stoically bear the burden.

Until one day it's a heart attack, or cancer, or even death by train.

Often they simply walk out the door with nothing but the clothes on their back.

And when it happens, people say, "I don't understand what happened to her (or him). Was it their diet? Was it stress?"

The silence in the room becomes deafening.

People who work in employee engagement know that the problem happens well before anybody takes the time and effort to complain.

It's a principle of life: Nobody sticks their neck out.

If you really want to know what's going on, proactively take the pulse of your relationships, personal and work.

Ask your people to talk.


By Dannielle Blumenthal, Ph.D. The author hereby releases this work into the public domain. Photo by Alexas_Fotos via Pixabay (Public Domain).

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

FOXBusiness calls it "The $500,000,000 Trend Spinning the Toy Industry Upside Down."

I call it a boring and pointless waste of time.

Either way I'm betting you can't name a single brand in the category.

As a trend watcher, here are three products I believe will go mainstream by 2020. (Of course, the extent to which this happens will depend on the laws, regulations and policies surrounding implementation):
  • Marijuana - for medicinal or recreational purposes 
  • Sex robots - as a substitute for human companionship and as a therapeutic aid for trauma victims, those with phobias, etc. 
  • Bitcoin - as a replacement for paper currency, gold or silver 
As a marketer I'm not here to debate the worthiness of these products or to suggest I know anything about their functionality. I don't.

But I can smell a trend like a hound dog. And in that capacity I point out to you three markets with immediate appeal to wide swaths of the population, which are in my opinion at the tipping point.

Here's the thing, though: Can you name a brand of any of the above?

Probably not.

I definitely can't.

Just like I can't name any particular brand of fidget spinner.

A long time ago when I was a brand consultant full-time, I remember that clients always wanted to rush their products and services to market.

For them, the concept of building a trusted brand was just too ambitious. Too expensive. Not worth the time and effort. They wanted revenue. Revenue, now.

Of course there is some merit to adopting this position.

If you aren't making money selling stuff, you don't have money to invest in building a trusted brand.

At the same time, if you spend all your time focusing on selling, selling, selling, you risk becoming just another junk commodity purveyor.

It's like trying to become a successful Amazon seller.

One way to go about it is to sell the hottest stuff at the lowest price, and offer great service to boot. That gets you lots of 5-star reviews, sure.

The problem is, the minute somebody else with good reviews beats your price by even a fraction, the market will head directly to your competitor.

It's logical: economics.

But what if you took the time and made the effort to build a trusted brand on Amazon?
  • What if you had a good, distinct name, logo, and value proposition? 
  • What if you built your reputation slowly, steadily through word of mouth? Social media marketing? 
  • What if you participated in events sponsored by your local school, place of worship, and other worthy nonprofits? 
  • What if you donated 10% of your profits to charity? 

If you had such a storefront, and I knew about it, I would pay an extra percentage on my purchase. Just to support you.

The bottom line is this: Any product or service has potential to be a brand.

And any product or service can be used nefariously or in a positive manner.

The challenge for you, if you are a business owner, is to:
  1. Follow the trends to understand where the markets are headed. 
  2. Invest when products and services catering to those markets are almost, but not quite ripe. 
  3. Build a brand not around the specific product, but around the concept of life-enhancing value it provides. 
  4. Run your business ethically in a proactive way. Give back. And for God's sake, don't be a sleaze. 
  5. Apply the brand liberally yet strategically to not just one, but a suite of products and services. 
At the end of the day, I always tell people, brand-building isn't rocket science.

It simply requires objectivity and practice.

And if you use your branding skills to do good things for the world, the good karma you generate is another positive investment.

That alone can yield incalculable dividends.


By Dannielle Blumenthal, Ph.D. All opinions are the author's own. The author hereby releases this post into the public domain. Public domain photo by ivabalk via Pixabay.

Sunday, July 2, 2017

From the Talmud:
Deceptive Quality/Advertising Puffery: Misleading one's customers into thinking that the quality of the item they purchased is much better than it really is would be geneivat da'at. This case is similar to the Talmudic case (Babylonian Talmud, Chullin 94a) involving selling shoes made from the hide of a dead animal and misrepresenting them as coming from the hide of a slaughtered animal. Deceptive advertising would be one way of dishonestly raising customers' expectations regarding the quality of products. Selling products with misleading nutritional information, e.g., selling nutrition supplements as weight-loss, wrinkle-elimination, or memory-improvement aids when there is no evidence that they have any such beneficial effect, would also fall under the prohibition of geneivat da'at.
Read more at: http://www.jlaw.com/Articles/geneivatdaat.html

By Dannielle Blumenthal, Ph.D. All opinions are the author's own. This is a personal account unrelated to and not sponsored by the author's employer or any other entity. The author shares this content for reuse under the Creative Commons 3.0 License. For more information: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/us/.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

This post was written by Chana Rivka Herbsman, a high school student and my niece. It is an excellent analysis in its own right. But I asked her to let me publish it for another reason: She is a primary target for cosmetics marketing, reflecting on the messages she's getting about this product. Very often, marketers cater to our unconscious mind; we can fight back against destructive, exploitive messages by really thinking about what it is they're telling us. And I agree with her conclusion: Makeup can be a really positive thing, as long as you don't fall for the message that you must be perfect, or strive to be perfect, in order to somehow be acceptable - DB

Concealer. Cover up. Cover Girl. There seems to be a running theme here. The unifying purpose of makeup is the ability to hide blemishes and feel, even for a short period of time, flawless.  That feeling of perfection is what bonds women of all ages throughout the country. 

The downside is the perpetuation of the deceptive appearance of perfection.  It is okay to hide flaws but the problem lies when we pretend they don't exist. 

Makeup is the art of displaying a flawless image of yourself to the world, without anyone knowing that it is distorted. A simple application of foundation, concealer, bronzer, eyeliner, and mascara can completely change a person’s look.  Makeup supports the American value of presenting a perfect image of oneself, while also celebrating the love for identification within a group.

There is so much pressure in society today to get the highest SAT scores, get into Ivy League college, have a top-notch career, all while maintaining a busy social life by going out with friends, out to eat, ordering the best looking dishes, getting into shape, all while getting enough hours of sleep everyday. It is exhausting! 

On the outside, it appears like everyone is able to balance their  family, school, and work lives along with their self care, while you feel like you are juggling it about as successfully as those guys on America’s Got Talent, who got four Xs within five seconds.

People become overwhelmed and in order to keep their image intact, they try to show everyone that they are managing just fine, when in reality they are not.  But, no one is. The truth is everyone has struggles and are just trying to get by. 

With the rise of social media like Facebook, Instagram, and Snapchat, it is no wonder there is a rise in a culture obsessed with makeup.

  • There are currently over 45,000 YouTube channels with content designated to beauty (1). 
  • The cosmetic industry in the U.S. alone has revenues over 62 billion dollars (2). 
  • First opened in New York City in 1998, the leading luxury cosmetic franchise, Sephora, has sales exceeding $4 billion, with 1200 stores carrying over 250 beauty brands (3). And this is excluding drugstores and other department stores. 
The makeup craze that exists today all stems from the utopian world people see online and on social media outlets.

  • Instagram allows someone to post a small snapshot of their life, and they can even edit it. A simple picture of a graffitied subway station wall, can appear like the photographer was touring Miami’s Art Deco. 
  • Snapchat entitles someone to post only 10 seconds of what was the worst day of their life, and sham everyone into thinking they had partied all day. 
Social media has created expectations people can not live up to.

Although we all know that social media is a false pretense of other people’s lives, we continue to buy into it. The same is true with makeup. We continue to think that everyone has flawless skin and no dark circles when in fact the opposite is true.

The idea behind the “no makeup makeup look” that has been  trending, is that the makeup should be so natural that people won’t even think it is there all at. 

  • One tutorial of this look on YouTube has seven million views (5)! 
  • Another video, entitled “Makeup Mistakes to Avoid + Tips for a Flawless Face”, has a staggering number of 11 million views (6)! 
Women, teenagers, and even girls, all want the same thing. To show the world something they are not: perfect.

Acne, what? Dark circles, what’s that? No sleep, how would you know? The magic of foundation, concealer, eye shadow, eyeliner, and mascara takeover leaving you with clearer skin, larger eyes, and longer eyelashes than you did ten minutes ago! People often want to pretend their life is amazing and perfect when in fact we all face struggles everyday.  

Social media is one way of showing the world that your life is the best one anyway has ever had anywhere, however, when it comes to meeting other people in real life, makeup is the only “filter” you can have on.

The American value of putting on a facade is portrayed in Tennessee Williams’s play, The Glass Menagerie. One of the main characters, Laura, has slight leg defect causing her to limp, but she has magnified this limp until it has affected her whole personality. In scene 7 in the play, she recalls a moment in high school where her leg brace clumped as loud as thunder, while Jim, a former classmate, claims he never heard any clumping- he never noticed anything. Laura felt bound by her imperfection, limiting her from opportunities, like a career, she would otherwise have. If there was some way that she could mislead the world into thinking that her body was working perfectly, Laura would grab onto that chance. 

The value that drives why many people wear makeup today is that they want to conceal their blemishes and show the world that they have the unlimited to capacity to achieve whatever they set their mind to. If only Laura would have been able to hide her leg problem, her decisions probably would have taken her in a different direction. People may feel insecure about their blotchy or bumpy skin, but with the magic of makeup, they are able to hide their insecurities, leaving them feeling empowered. That is the dichotomy we face today.

However, makeup is not all bad. Makeup celebrates Americans need for inclusion and being a part of something bigger than themselves. Makeup creates an opportunity for women to bond as it is something that unites them in their quest for identity. 

Since before the ancient Egyptians, women have been putting on cosmetics and were always looking for more effective ways to accentuate their beauty. A study in 2012 shows that fifty percent of women are dependent on makeup to step outside their homes (7).

Most, if not all women enjoy wearing makeup. Some do not wear it on a daily basis, either because they do not want to, have no time, or they are just simply lazy. However, when given the option of  getting their makeup done, most women would grab that opportunity to get a makeover. It’s pampering and makes them feel more feminine. 

Makeup is not only a bonding experience through application but also through conversation. It is something to talk about when situations get uncomfortable and it can also be a great conversation catalyst with newcomers. Women are expected to know a lot on our makeup and if they don't, they are considered an exception.

Makeup brings out the femininity of all women throughout the country. We see the same is true with men and sports. Men are expected to know about sports and to be able to discuss them. However, they do not expect women to know about sports as it is something only they bond over to feel masculine.

The interest in makeup is what creates bonding and inclusion, while the obsession with it is what is so damaging.

Makeup can be used as a source of connection and creativity.  However, when abused, makeup can distort one’s self perception and deceive the user and the world into believing that problems don’t exist.

So when applying makeup next, one should pause and appreciate being perfectly imperfect. 

1. "Beauty Youtubers." Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, 29 May 2017. Web. 12 June 2017.
2. Bender, Joshua. "Topic: Cosmetics Industry in the U.S." Www.statista.com. N.p., n.d. Web. 12 June 2017.
3. "Sephora." Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, 07 June 2017. Web. 12 June 2017.
4. "History of cosmetics." Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, 12 June 2017. Web. 12 June 2017
5. MakeupBySona. "How To: LOOK BEAUTIFUL WITH NO MAKEUP." YouTube. YouTube, 29 Apr. 2015. Web. 12 June 2017.
6. CarliBel55. "Makeup Mistakes to Avoid Tips for a Flawless Face." YouTube. YouTube, 18 Aug. 2015. Web. 12 June 2017.
7. Misener, Jessica. "Half Of Women Are Dependent On Makeup, Study Says." The Huffington Post. TheHuffingtonPost.com, 28 Feb. 2012. Web. 12 June 2017.

Copyright 2017 by Chana Rivka Herbsman. All rights reserved. All opinions are the author's own.