Monday, December 4, 2017

Thursday, November 30, 2017

Sunday, November 26, 2017

Blockchain & the Future of Brand Strategy



Trust is the foundation of brand equity--meaning, the added monetary value that the brand provides over and above a commodity--and therefore of the brand itself.

If the customer does not trust that the brand will deliver its promised benefit, the conversation is over before it starts.

This holds true no matter what kind of benefit we are talking about:
  • Functional -- that the brand performs better than the competition. 
  • Emotional -- that the brand makes you feel particularly good in some way. 
  • Communal -- that the brand affords you a sense of belonging to a group. 
  • Spiritual -- that the brand affords your life a sense of meaning. 
Blockchain by its nature will transform the way consumers come to trust in brands. Rather than a linear relationship, with the brand producer "creating" a trust relationship for customers to either accept or not accept, the responsibility for trust is distributed.

In the blockchain model, all transactions--financial and contractual--are validated and revalidated continuously through a distributed network. The best metaphor I've heard to explain how blockchain works is that of a Google document, where updates to the core are made and recorded by many individuals (nodes) on the network simultaneously.

You can see this shift happening right now in the collapse of the mainstream media. Per Gallup (September 2016): "Americans' Trust In Mass Media Sinks to New Low."

Concurrent with this we see the rise of independent "micro-journalists." In this model:
  • The journalist is not funded by a colossal corporate network and their fact-checking isn't supported by a salaried person employed by said colossus. 
  • Instead, anyone can contribute facts to the collective and a seemingly infinite number of anonymous individuals do that, on platforms made to collect and/or preserve information. 
  • Asynchronously, content is developed, produced, and distributed, and the credibility of the distributor is continually questioned. 
Over time, some journalists emerge as "trusted quantities" whereas others are discarded as non-credible.

The new media will be about a consistent brand experience, but that consistency comes from a silent mass of people converging to anoint certain people and not others over time, and based on a history of repeated transactions that are open and accounted for to the public. Those transactions are information-based, and they are preserved in perpetuity for anyone in the public domain to examine.

We have trouble admitting when the old ways are dying, but we do ourselves a financial disservice by failing to come to terms with reality. Powerful companies are "getting into" the blockchain and related cryptocurrency space, but even a cursory review of the news demonstrates that blockchain thinking has barely made a dent.

How do we know this? Companies are still trying to get their employees to represent a perfect image of a perfectly consistent brand, that some mythical Wizard of Oz is engaged in creating.
  • That is an old model, Branding 1.0.
  • It was superseded by Branding 2.0 several years ago--this is where people talk back to the brand.
  • Branding 3.0 is where people co-create, and go one step further, by curating multiple brands together.
  • The new age of branding, Branding 4.0, will be where people collectively transform the nature of entire industries, without even trying to do so.
Paradoxically we will say "branding is over."

But in the sense that trust powers all financial relationships, and imbues our professional world with a variety of "known characters," the act of branding and the strategy involved in crafting some brands as "more trustworthy than others" endures as both art and science.
___

Posted November 26, 2017 by Dr. Dannielle (Dossy) Blumenthal. All opinions are the author's own. This post is hereby released into the public domain. Image credit: geralt/Pixabay (CC0 Creative Commons)

Friday, November 24, 2017

Brand Style Guide: The Basics


The most important thing to remember about branding is that you're creating an artificial personality. Therefore, the brand style guide is an attempt to describe that personality in words and pictures in such a way that it can be replicated. Typically the basic elements are:
  • Vision - the abstract reason for being (e.g. "make the world a better place")
  • Mission - the specific thing you do to make the mission happen (e.g. "through offering healthy refreshments at a fair price")
  • Core values - the beliefs that power you (e.g. "quality, integrity, gratitude")
  • Words - tagline, key messages, key words
  • Visuals - logo, color palette, font
A brand style guide therefore should cover all of these elements. 

___
Posted on November 24, 2017 by Dannielle Blumenthal, Ph.D. All opinions are the author's own. The author's earlier version of this post appears on Quora.com. This post is hereby released into the public domain. CC0 Creative Commons photo by lightstargod via Pixabay.

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Seeing God In Branding

For many years it has been fashionable to hate on brands, branding and brand practitioners alike. We are seen as evil corporate attackers against the pure state of affairs that is un-adulteration.

But the reality is not as it seems. In fact, the practice of branding, done well and ethically, brings out our inner spirituality.

This is true in a couple of ways.
  • For one thing, brands work well because they mirror the human drive to know God, the inner unity behind all things.
  • For another, brands work against human division by showing how diversity is in fact part of a larger reality.
  • For a third, the highest kind of branding taps into our spiritual need for affiliation with those who share our values. As commodity items are all essentially the same, the only real difference in the end is what and who we identify with.
It is unfortunate that this art/science is traditionally misused for the wrong ends.

The way you can tell? It leaves you troubled, disgruntled, and unconvinced.
__________
Copyright 2017 by Dannielle Blumenthal, Ph.D. All opinions are Dr. Blumenthal's own. All rights reserved. CC0 Image via GDJ/Pixabay.

Thursday, November 16, 2017

5 Brand Trends for 2018


These are my predictions for 2018:


1) Blockchain industry to generate many products and services - branded virtual currency, smart contracts, training, staffing and backup.


2) Cannabis to expand its march toward legalization and regulation for medical and recreational use, leading to branded products, accessories, treatment practices, magazines and resorts.


3) Alexa, Siri, AI to begin to take off as human companionship is supplanted by robots that can alleviate the eternal loneliness of the human condition and help us to get stuff done. 


4) Similar to #3 but more focused on emotional and physical intimacy, expect the beginning of mass adoption of virtual assistants, daytime companions, nighttime spooners, cuddle parties and sex robots. 


5) Guns, martial arts and swordfighting: Look for self-defense to continue to gain traction with consumers seeking out products, training, and recreational activities related to survival. 

__

Copyright Dr. Dannielle Blumenthal. Opinions my own. Graphic by me.


Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Addictive ThredUp


You feel better when you’re dressed nicely.

We used our most recent shopping credit to pick up a cool black skirt and shoes—black sneakers, white sole.

What brand it is doesn’t matter. It’s the energy.
Check out all these cool links to the types of clothes we like—most recently, stylish work blazers, skirts and shoes you can walk in.
The special promo code for my readers is: DOCDANNIELLE

Use it to get 50% off through the month of November 2017.

All opinions my own. Compensated post.

Monday, October 23, 2017

Sugarloaf Crafts Festival 2017: A Marketing Perspective

So we attended the Sugarloaf Crafts Festival in Gaithersburg, MD yesterday. You can still head up there today (October 23, 2017) if you're available and have interest.

Probably my favorite thing about these types of events is actually talking to the artists. Like the one in the cover photo, who was selling mezuzot made of her mother's lace, rescued from the Holocaust.


I had the good fortune to meet Tracy Levesque, a self-taught artist whose work is simply stunning (see photos above and below).


What I appreciated about Tracy was that she made the effort to produce items an average person could buy, like the coasters, which were 4 for $35. As she helpfully explained, you could put them on the wall if you think they're too nice for drinks. Here's a link to her Etsy store. Based on quality alone, I love this art but the populist element adds to its appeal.

Someone was selling salad bowls and I stopped at the exhibit not only because they were beautiful, but also because there was a video running in front of them. I can't even recall what the video was about, only that the bowls were in them, and it was pretty cool. So that is a marketing tactic that worked, because here I am telling you about them.

A number of beautiful fashion exhibits were on display at the festival and I especially liked this dress. The problem however was that it -- like most of the items -- were priced beyond the reach of the average person. (Many of the prices ran into the hundreds of dollars.) 

The price of the food was exorbitant as well -- $5 for a single cup of strawberry lemonade, $10 for a plate of sliced potato fries.

From where I sit, if you're holding a community festival you should be sure that all the vendors are offering a reasonably priced set of alternatives to their higher-priced items. It didn't look to me like the crowd was buying such expensive stuff, anyway.

On the subject of money -- let's talk for a second about the entry fee. Especially considering the high prices that vendors were charging for their products, it seems they could have eliminated the minimal $8 (online)/$10 (in person) ticket cost and had the vendors make it up from their revenue.

The setting of the fair was the Montgomery County Fairgrounds. There were many references to animals and 4-H (even painted on the side of one building), but no explanation or integration into the fair. More than once I found myself staring at creepy-looking animal statues and empty horse stalls, wondering exactly what this place was and what had gone on there. Some effort to provide explanatory information for this implicit knowledge base would have been helpful, instead of off-putting.

Regarding artists marketing themselves:  Certainly a giveaway stack of postcards would have been great. But these were nowhere to be found. Additionally, On top of this, several exhibitors were visibly upset when we took photos of their beautiful work. Instead of saying: "excuse me!" or "ask permission!" they might have realized that such photos could lead directly to sales.

If you are an artist, encourage people to take a ton of photos, pose with prospective customers, give them your hashtag, and offer a reward for the best photos posted to Instagram!

Similarly, if prospective customers come up to talk to you, don't just stand their woodenly and answer their questions with a single word. You're at a fair -- you're there to be human!

Make the customer your partner in marketing. OBVIOUSLY.

Work with the flow of the river, never against it if you can.

The idea of the artist as an elite reclusive genius is old. And it doesn't apply to 99.99% of the people exhibiting at craft fairs.

__________


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

Consider The Brand Environment Before Adding A Logo




The brand environment is often overlooked because  designer and client alike are focused on graphic material and message solely. 

The result, here: An otherwise good logo, for Feed the Children, is buried amid unnecessary so-branding, and it competes with the Metro logo. 

Bottom line: Keep it simple & bold - cut something out.  

Posted October 23, 2017 by Dr. Dannielle Blumenthal. Photo by the author. All opinions are the author’s own.  All rights reserved. 

Sunday, October 22, 2017

Personal Branding Will Focus Your Resume

Long story short I wound up taking a freelance job to rewrite someone's resume.

This is something I have not been paid to do in the past, and I priced the job much too low for the time and effort it took. Probably, all told, 10-15 hours.

Here are some of the lessons learned along the way for me. Whether you hire a resume writer or not, they are some practical tips to keep in mind.
  • The first step is to focus on the practical realities of the job you want to get. For example, do you need to stay in a certain geographic area? Are you wedded to the profession for which you trained? Is there a salary requirement? These are the parameters that will form the outline of the document. The recruiter should know immediately that you want to work within this box.
  • The second step is to figure out your Myers-Briggs type. It's important to do this because no matter what job you get, if it's out of sync with the way you function happily at work, you will be miserable even if the compensation is high. Just to illustrate, if you're a "people person" you should never take a job that requires lots of reports and compliance activities, unless you have a staff and are prepared to manage them well. The Myers-Briggs assessment can be done on your own, or in conjunction with a tool such as the excellent and free 16personalities.com.
  • The third step is to write a short profile that describes who you are and what you're looking for. You can think of this as your personal branding statement if you want, but it's really just a simple, plain old synopsis that describes you to a "T." You should look at these bullet points, or short paragraph, and say, "Yes, that is me, exactly."
  • The fourth step is to gather all possible documentation that can support a strong resume. Documentation means job descriptions, awards, relevant volunteer experience, performance appraisals, recommendations, and so on. Even some notes about your weaknesses is helpful. If it provides a valid picture into who you are, then it helps.
  • The fifth step is to put all the pieces together into a short, finished document. I used a low-cost tool called MyPerfectResume.com, which walks you through the details of the resume, lets you add profession-appropriate text blocks to the work experience areas, and even offers many clean and eye-catching professional templates for the design.
So what took so long, and why should you hire a resume writer if you can do all this yourself?

The answer is, like everything else, the human factor cannot be automated. Just like there is no automatic formula for setting two people up on a date, there is also no computer that can take your professional experience and automatically spit out a resume that perfectly characterizes your unique value-add.

From a branding perspective, the capacity to assess your personal qualities as versus the worth you bring to the marketplace is invaluable. Having that third party present in some way to walk you through what went wrong and what went well over the course of your career can be the "missing ingredient."

The job of the third party is to work with you, keeping the big picture in mind and staying logical. They should help you come up with what is essentially a personal branding statement that clarifies and cuts through the complexity that is your life. Instead of feeling like a victim of circumstance, you are empowered to reinvent yourself with every job, extracting only that portion which adds value and possibility to your future.

____________

All opinions are the author's own. Photo by FotografieLink via Pixabay (CC0 Creative Commons).

Friday, October 20, 2017

Brand Management = Pret (Filed Under: Internal Branding)



Why is Pret a winning brand? Managers like this. 


I have watched her give a rousing, morale-boosting, sometimes chastising morning pep talk on several occasions. Today the staff actually CHEERED. 


She tells them about the new dishes coming in. 


She reminds them about safety. 


She introduces senior leadership. 


She rolls her sleeves up. 


She cares. 


She is deeply, deeply engaged in her job. 


I can tell all this from a mile away, and it gives me even more confidence and trust about the food they sell. 


On the wall there are posters about their obsession with keeping avocados fresh and cutting vegetables properly. 


The signs are matched with their passion for great management. 


When you want to know why management is the basis of branding — watch a company like this in action.


______

Copyright 2017 by Dannielle Blumenthal, Ph.D. All opinions are the author’s own. Photo by Dr. Blumenthal.


Thursday, October 19, 2017

Updated With ***50% Off Promo Code** 10/24/17 --> Let's Talk About That Coach Bag I Left At ThredUp*


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.

UPDATE 10/24/17 

Promo Code
  • Use the code DOCDANNIELLE at checkout
  • 50% off all first-time orders up to $50
  • Code is good till the end of November 2017
Direct links to handbags, blouses, belts:

__________

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

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Free Photos


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

A Review of Oh Mama Grill (Kosher Shwarma Review & Alert; Marketing Notes Included)


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

Why Is This House Worth $1,000,000 (Or More)?


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.

“Yup.”

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

DC Design House 2017 - Assorted Notes

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 Simple Rule For Naming High-Tech Products

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

Go As Far As You Can Without Seeming Like A Complete Lunatic [Filed Under: #PersonalBranding, #Authenticity]


"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?"

"No."

"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."

"No."

"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. 

Men.

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

Art Meets Politics at SPX


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/.

Search This Blog

Copyright 2016 by Dannielle Blumenthal, Ph.D. All opinions are the author's own. Powered by Blogger.