Archive for March, 2013

Customer Service is Still Key

March 27, 2013

Customer ServiceIn this new world of communication – text, tweets, chats – some companies are forgetting how important good customer service is to customer loyalty.  In my opinion, one is the offshoot of the other.  Is it really easier to have me chat with you about a problem I am having then call me and do everything you can to solve my issue?  Aren’t you willing to pay a little more for a product or service if you know that if you have a problem it will be easily, quickly resolved?  That is one aspect of brand loyalty.

I worked in the cable business for many years and until recently had service from a company that will remain nameless but is owned partially by NBC Universal…hint, hint.  Despite years of customer complaints their customer service is still lacking in many aspects – representatives that you cannot understand, inane phone trees to get to a department and what I find as a attempt to have all troubleshooting done over the Internet versus the ability to speak to an actual human being.  I will be switching services this week after my wife spent over 4 hours on the phone with them trying to solve a HSD issue…even when we subscribe to their higher end customer troubleshooting service. Plus she was “disconnected” 3 times in the process and had to call back.  Really?   I have no customer loyalty.  It’s pretty sad that we have gone away from the “do whatever it takes to keep a customer mentality.”

On the other hand, I recently bought a a couple of URL’s from  And, while I a not a particular fan of their advertising strategy, their customer care is outstanding.  I had trouble setting up my Outlook Exchange service with one of my URL’s and connect it to my mobile phone.  I called GoDaddy support, got right through and a wonderful young lady spent 2 hours with me troubleshooting, getting answers and instead of putting me on hold for minutes at a time suggested that she call me back after she investigated some of the issues.  And she did, within minutes.  She was outstanding and understood the value to keeping me happy with her company’s service even though it is a commodity and can be purchased in dozen of other places.  Just like cable, HSD and phone services through a cable or satellite provider.  GoDaddy has a customer for life.

To call companies, remember how important good customer service it and how much it helps with brand loyalty.  It cost 2x the amount of money to win me back as it did to get me as a customer in the first place.

Til next time!

Branding holistic entrepreneur, Pierre S. du Pont as a “Rare Genius”

March 26, 2013

Nestled in the idyllic Brandywine Valley in Chester County, PA is one of the United States premier botanical gardens. Consisting of 1,077 acres, Longwood Gardens is a horticulturists dream. Upon entrance into the gardens, visitors experience breathtaking flower gardens, majestic water fountain displays, tree-lined woodlands, lush green meadows and an impressive 4-acre conservatory filled with plants from around the world.


Founder Pierre S. du Pont drew inspiration for Longwood from the gardens of Versailles and Italian estates, including Villa d’Este an estate near Rome, Italy.

What began as a project to save the trees became a lifelong passion for Pierre. Today, his legacy is open yearly to the public and is protected by a Board of Trustees who oversee the charitable not-for-profit corporation.

Pierre was not only a conservationist who built a botanical garden; he was also an entrepreneur who transformed his families gunpowder company into the world’s third largest chemical company. DuPont is based out of Wilmington, DE and has developed revolutionary products including Kevlar, Corian, and Rayon.

Known as the “reluctant newsmaker,” Pierre made waves in both the private and public sector. His success as an executive for both General Motors and DuPont made him a household name. The New York Times Magazine observed in 1934, “The average man is exposed to Du Pont products from the time he starts to shave in the morning, with a shaving brush whose handle is probably made of plastic, to the moment when he peels off his rayon undershirt at night.” Advertisements for the DuPont brand during the 1920s and 1930s were everywhere in the marketplace. One could argue that Pierre was also a master of branding and advertising.

Because the du Pont name carried a certain amount of weight, Pierre as a philanthropist, was able to transform and improve the failing schools of Wilmington Delaware.

Ultimately, Pierre was more than an entrepreneur. His legacy spanned across a set of varied holistic initiatives. In his own words, “ I’m in a wonderful position; I’m unknown, I’m underrated, and there’s nowhere to go but up.” Michelle Ferrari, biographer of Pierre S. du Pont, highlighted his posthumous legacy by titling her biography “Pierre S. du Pont – A Rare Genius.”

I am fortunate that Longwood Gardens is close to my home. I use my annual pass to reconnect with all that nature has to offer, and I enjoy all the featured social activities available during the year. Check out all the paths of engagement the brand currently leverages.


Have you ever visited a botanical garden like Longwood Gardens? If so, please comment below.

Campaigns…here I come!

March 20, 2013

Monday was a rainy day in Northeast Ohio, but honestly, looking back, I won’t remember the weather. I will remember Monday as the very last first day in the IMC Program. That’s right…Monday kicked off IMC 636 Campaigns for me. The Campaigns course, although it’s still early, reminds me a lot of my very first course, IMC610 because all the students seem to be rooting for one another from Day 1. There’s a true sense of all the students being in this journey together.

This semester we’re concentrating on the American Red Cross, which will be beneficial for me since I help coordinate marketing for a non-profit organization. Although our missions are much different, studying non-profit marketing will offer many advantages to me professionally.

I know that the next nine weeks will be tough, but I’m up for the challenge. To have a little fun before Campaigns, I spent some time with my friends!

Nicole SJ Megan

I also went to New York for a quick trip!


I think Central Park is my favorite place on Earth!

Over the past weekend, I found myself dedicating a lot of extra time to resting because this will be a time consuming nine weeks.

Are you excited to tackle the next course? Tell me what you’re taking!

Integrate Marketing by Developing a Designer’s Eye

March 18, 2013

Design is based on a grid system. Even though, the framework is not visible to the naked eye,  designers need a foundation point before they can begin pushing pixels around a canvas. Once a designer understands the confines of their grid system, their trained eye beings to see relationships form between the ingredients of symmetry, proportion, and harmony. Aristotle referred to the harmonious state between ingredients as the Golden Mean.

Golden Mean

Centuries later, building upon the tenets of Aristotle, Tim Brown CEO of IDEO coined the phrase “design thinking,” which is the “discipline that uses the designer’s sensibility and methods to match people’s needs with what is technologically feasible and what a viable business strategy can convert into customer value and market opportunity.”

Organizations still holding on to the belief that a design departments only function is to “makes things look pretty” should revise that notion and recognize that design is no longer just about the aesthetics. Instead, design is a holistic representation of brand value.

Don Draper, from Mad Men, even though he is a fictitious television character, defines what it means to be a  “Creative.” Armed with a unique skill set, Don is able to balance both strategic thinking and design thinking in order to satisfy both the needs of the agencies clients and the demanding needs of his Accounts Executives. In one episode, Don eloquently summarizes the plight of the Creative field by stating, “Creative – the least important, most important thing there is.”

Today, an individual like Don Draper with the depth of skills in a (vertical) single field (Advertising), but who is also able to collaborate (horizontally) with multiple fields (Marketing/PR/Internal Communications/Development/Sales) would possess a T-shaped skill set. Marty Neumeier, author of The Brand Gap, further refers to such individuals who can strategize with the chief and inspire creativity from the troops as “Chief Brand Officers.” David Armano, Managing Director of Edelman Digital Chicago, shared the infographic below back in 2006 on the subject.


Design can only cover up so much, and marketer’s should not walk away from the creative process. Walking way forms a silo. Instead, teams should form a structured collaboration unit around the practice of “design thinking.” Since the heart of IMC is based around a brand’s customers, an understanding of the foundational principles of design (hierarchy, retouching, white space, typography, and color), is necessary for marketers to develop their design eye when implementing creative strategy.



Hierarchy is an organization process of meaning. Designers use retouching, white space, typography, and color to establish hierarchy within a layout. Without visual hierarchy, content would not be engaging or memorable. Think of hierarchy in terms of stair steps, where the most relevant content is placed at the top.


A computer is just a tool to realize an already vetted concept. Before a layout is even shared outside of the creative circle, a certain amount of retouching is necessary to enhance content beyond the roughing-out stage. With the help of the Adobe Creative Suite, Creatives have the tools necessary to mask, scale, and crop out unnecessary elements from their layouts. As the design process evolves, layer upon layers of revisions shape a working layout.


Negative space, otherwise known by Creatives as white space, is a design tool, which when appropriately used allows visuals the opportunity to breathe. Instead, of clunking up white space with unnecessary space fillers, like a dot whack filled with marketing text, think about if the customer would feel overstimulated with the lack of space. Less is almost always more.


Typography sets the spoken tone in a composition. A sans serif font (without serif feet), like Arial, reads much easier for body copy than a serif font (with serif feet), like Times New Roman. A layout should never have more than two or three fonts within a layout. Too many fonts create visual competition, resulting in a poor customer experience.

Font size is also a strong consideration designers make as they craft their layouts.  Depending on the demographic of the audience, the font size might need to be adjusted accordingly. If more visual space is needed, typographic tricks, such as leading (space between lines) and kerning (space between letters) could be leveraged.


Color is a powerful medium of influence. Each color within the color wheel evokes a subjective response from a viewer. Any chosen scheme within a layout should be tested against established color theories. Warm tones, like red, orange, or yellow evoke feelings of passion, happiness and energy. Cool tones, on the other hand, like blue evoke a sense of a calm.  Understanding color theory is a powerful design principle because a brand is forever defined by the chosen tones.

If Don Draper stepped into an advertising agency on Park Avenue today, he would find that  telling customers what they want is no longer an option. Don would have to adopt and leverage the principles of Integrated Marketing (IMC) in order to think holistically about the customer experience across all forms of media including digital.

Despite the fact that the marketing communication landscape is always changing, the principles of design no matter what the medium remain the same. By developing a designer’s eye, marketer’s can keep pace with the ever changing aesthetic needs of their customers.


Marketing Messages Across Geographies and Cultures

March 11, 2013

I recently had the good fortune to be sent on a business trip to Sydney, Australia. Following my long days in the office I would often come back to the hotel and, after finishing homework for IMC 615, put my feet up and watch a little local television. I was amused to see the commercials for familiar brands with either different names or different positioning from those in the U.S.

Hungry Jack's logo

Hungry Jack’s, the brand name of the Burger King franchise in Australia and New Zealand.

Having already taken Multicultural Marketing as one of my electives I have studied how a singular brand message does not resonate with different cultures in the same way. Often this means a company markets different messages, or even products, to audiences in different geographies or cultural groups. Sometimes an entirely different name is required in order to differentiate in the local market, such as the example of Burger King. When they decided to expand operations into Australia they found out the name was already trademarked by a take-out restaurant in Adelaide, so they use the brand Hungry Jack’s. Interestingly, this name is derived from Hungry Jack, because it was already trademarked by Burger King’s parent company, Pillsbury, as a pancake mix brand in the U.S.

Even though the name is different, the brand is still clearly Burger King to this American. Everything from the logo, to the use of product names like Whopper, align with the Burger King brand. Watch the below commercial and decide for yourself:

Other times it is the message that is changed to resonate more with local culture or traditions. I was taken off guard when I first saw the below commercial for while in Sydney. I thought maybe it was a Saturday Night Live spoof at first, but later realized that Australians have a pretty good acceptance and sense of humor about the country’s beginnings as a destination for convicts and criminals. In fact, some of Australia’s most notable historic figures came to the country originally as prisoners. Once I had that understanding this ad for didn’t seem quite so satirical. Still, I do get a chuckle out of the tag line “find your convict ancestors at!”

These are just two examples of the localization of well-known brands and marketing messages I saw while traveling in Australia. What examples have you seen in your travels?

P.S. – If this type of subject interests you, I encourage you to consider adding IMC  622 – Multicultural Marketing to your list of electives.

Where Do You Complete Your Best Work?

March 4, 2013

best work

Since beginning the IMC Program nearly three years ago, I’ve completed about 90% of my coursework “old school” in front of my desktop computer at home. Once in a blue moon, I’ll head to the library for a change of scenery, but for the most part, I feel most productive in my pajamas in the comfort of my own house.

Some of us like a little background noise, while others enjoy a noisy environment to get creative. I notice that I get distracted if I work in other parts of my house so I try and stick to what I know works. I’ve even started leaving my phone in another room so I don’t have the urge to text, check emails or play a game when writing a paper.

I believe that in the past three years, my time management skills have improved as well as my ability focus on projects. One of the reasons for these new skills is that I know the environment in which I can complete tasks successfully.

Where you complete your best work? Do you enjoy a different environment than I’ve described above?