Posts Tagged ‘branding’

Express Yourself… with a Powerful Resume

May 30, 2015

If you weren’t at #INTEGRATE this year or if you weren’t able to have your resume reviewed, here are a few resume pointers shared by the IMC professors.

Pay attention to consistency. You want to make the best first impression, so make sure your format, font, and framework is consistent throughout your resume.

View your resume as a living document: Make sure you have an offline (traditional resume) and online resume (ex. integrated website tying into social media work, profiles, and examples of work) as well. But, both of these documents have to be connected with each other.

– Professor Karen Freberg

I am a huge fan of people listing a wordpress site or LinkedIn profile so employers can see the multiple dimensions of an applicant.

– Professor Mike Fulton

If you are asked to limit your resume to a page, then build out your LinkedIn page or personal website to promote your professional and/or academic accomplishments.

When you detail your experience with a specific position, make sure the statement is measurable. (i.e. Increased media coverage of my company by XX% over a year). Additionally, if you include social media as a skill on your resume, be able to back up your activity with specific results (campaigns developed, measurement statistics, etc.)

– Professor Rebecca Anderson

Be sure to have specific objectives rather than broad, meaningless terms. Customize the objectives so they are in alignment with the position you are applying for.

– Professor Bonnie Harris

Once you build or update that resume, put it to use! If you’re looking for a new position, the WVU IMC job board is updated every Friday, and is full of outstanding opportunities.

If you did have your resume reviewed today, please add some of the best practice tips you received in the comments section below!

The Designful Company

December 29, 2014

A few years ago I was introduced to a fantastic book called The Brand Gap. Since then I have been making my way through Marty Neumeier’s other fantastic books. A while back I read Zag and have been picking up a book here and there between classes. I just finished The Designful Company and am very excited to start The 46 Rules of Genius.

As usual The Designful Company did not disappoint. These books are fantastic because they’re written in a causal tone and designed to be read on a short flight. They also come in very handy when working with executives on a project. Our entire staff read The Brand Gap when working on our branding study a few years ago. They’re small books, but pack quite a punch.

So, without ruining the reading experience for you, I wanted to share a few things from The Designful Company that I found very valuable.

First, let’s start with what differentiates a “designful” company from the rest.



Next, it’s important to understand why this type of atmosphere is essential to business success. Neumeier talks about a “designful” company as one that can unleash their creative collaboration skills and tackle a company’s most “wicked” problems. What’s a wicked problem, you ask? “A wicked problem is a puzzle so persistent, pervasive, or slipper that it can seem insoluable.”

Neumeier discusses how imperative it is to redefine the word “design” and think of it not as a function of the marketing or graphics office, but rather viewing everyone who tries to change an existing situation to an improved one as a designer. Being a “designful” company means creating a culture with innovation at its foundation, rather than trying to make innovation something that a company does.

The same can be said for a brand. Too many time I’ve heard companies say “we’re going to take 20 minutes to talk about branding” instead of making it the core of their organization and integrating it into all of their daily activities.

When I talk to other marketers inside and outside of higher education, I find one concern always shows up – how to get buy in from people “outside” the marketing department. How can we break down silos in order to enhance collaboration and increase productivity?   That’s the battle of IMC, right? How do we integrate all of our efforts and make a customer experience so compelling that our customers tattoo our logo on their bicep? (That might be going a little bit far, but you have to aim high.)

I think that creating a designful company helps to break down those silos. Again, it doesn’t fall into the “something you do” category, but rather the “who you are” category.  In The Designful Company Neumeier talks about connecting those silos and exploring opportunities for “cross-fertilization and creative collaboration.” The most exciting idea was that positions such as Chief Brand Officer, Chief Design Officer, or Chief Innovation Officer could be titles that those of us in this program could one day hold.

He shared the importance of adding a seat at the table that helps facilitate this collaboration and way of thinking. I am not a fan of creating absurd titles just to differentiate a company, but that’s not what this is. Creating these types of positions are paramount to enhancing a company’s culture and yielding the greatest productivity and innovation. Neumeier said, “While revolution must be lead from the top, it rarely starts at the top.”

I could write a few thousands words on the importance of creating a designful company, but I’ll share a few last words from Marty Neumeier and encourage you to pick up a copy of the book. If you do, let me know what you think!

  • Companies don’t fail because they choose the wrong course-they fail because they can’t imagine a better one
  • In a company with an innovative culture, radical ideas are the norm, not the exception
  • When the left brain and right brain work together, a third brain emerges that can do what neither brain can do alon
  • Designful leaders reject the tyranny of “or” in favor of the genius of “and”
  • Design drives innovation; innovation powers brand; brand builds loyalty; and loyalty sustains profits. If you want long-term profits, start with design.

It’s Not Just Business; It’s Personal, Too.

December 15, 2014

What differentiates one company from another? Services, characteristics, location? One of the top distinguishing factors is the company’s brand image. It’s not just about what the company does and what they sell; it’s about how customers view them. Some companies have customers that are so loyal they tattoo the company logo on their bodies!

If branding is so important, why is a personal brand often forgotten?

Below is a favorite quote of mine that applies not only to a company’s brand, but also personal branding.


Just like a company’s brand image, a personal brand image is not built over night. You can’t stay up all night coding a new web site, designing business cards, and reworking your resume and think that you suddenly have a brand. Like Michael Eisner said…these things are built over time.

Your brand encompasses everything about you – your skills, characteristics, personality, resume, online presence, etc. If all of those things are communicating different personalities to viewers, what does that say about you?

The two most essential things to know when starting to look at your personal brand are:

  1. You already have a personal brand
  2. You don’t get to completely determine what your personal brand is

Your brand is what other people think of you, so it’s important to put your best foot forward and make every encounter and interaction you have consistent with who you say you are. In addition to keeping that in mind, below is information I’ve collected over the last few years to help people enhance their personal brand.


Step 1:

Determine how you want to be viewed. When people think of you, what do you want them to think? Ask yourself some foundation questions.

  • What do you do better than anyone else?
  • What are your values?
  • What do you get complemented for the most?
  • How do you do what you do? Is it different than other people who are doing the same thing?
  • What do you want to do? What are you most passionate about?


Step 2:

Structuring you brand

  • Research
    • Who else has your name? What are other people with your name doing online?
  • Register your web site
  • Develop Social media platforms
    • How much time do you have to dedicate to building your social media presence? It’s better to do fewer platforms well.
    • Try to keep your URLs and user names as consistent as possible
    • Use one or two photos across all platforms


Step 3:

Personal branding toolkit

  • Resume
  • Business Cards
  • Social Media
  • Portfolio
  • Blog
  • Wardrobe
  • Email Address


Common mistakes in personal branding

  • Thinking your social media posts are protected or having more than one account per social media site
  • Posting the same thing to all platforms at the same time
  • Not updating social media accounts regularly
  • Placing greater emphasis on logos and imaging and not who you are and what you want


Again, your personal brand encompasses all aspects of your skills, personality, digital presence, and attitude. When looking at everything from the way you dress to the Facebook profile photo you have, do you like what it’s saying about you?

Let it Go, Let it Go…

September 24, 2014

Not one sentence into this post and you’re already finishing the lyrics to the catchy and, admittedly, sometimes annoying song from Disney’s animated movie Frozen. Less than a year old, the phenomenon is already Disney’s highest-grossing animated film of all time.


The longevity of movie’s popularity registered with me recently while I was shopping at Target and a young girl carrying a Frozen toy a few aisles over had the sound effect on repeat. As the phrase “Let it go, let it go” played continuously for at least five minutes, I could hear her sing along.

Is it the music, unique storyline, or endless marketing that has kept the movie a cultural phenomenon? Considering ABC fairytale show Once Upon a Time features Frozen’s Queen Elsa in the new Fall 2014 season, the movie is likely to garner even more attention.

Frozen 2

What do you think has been Disney’s secret to success in not only maintaining, but growing a “Frozen” brand following?



The Tireless ‘Share a Coke’ Name Search.

September 17, 2014

I can’t help it. Every time I wait in the checkout line, my eyes scan the nearest cooler or “Shake a Coke” display for a drink featuring my name. I still haven’t found it on a Coca-Cola, Diet Coke, or Coke Zero- all of which are part of the “Share a Coke” campaign.

share a coke

Luckily, however, the company allows you to add your name to a virtual bottle and share it through social media, suggesting that the act of sharing is more important than the drink itself. I have to admit, it’s pretty satisfying seeing my name on the virtual bottle, even if that’s all it is- virtual.

Of course I wanted to share a Coke with all of you as well! Unfortunately, this is the response I received when I typed WVU IMC:

WVU IMC share a coke

Sorry, everyone…

Another interesting component of the campaign involves its tour stops where you can personalize a mini Coke and immediately have the label printed on your drink.

What do you think about the “Share a Coke” campaign and how it fits with the brand’s identity? Have you visited a tour stop to personalize a drink?


Is being a verb a good thing?

July 28, 2014

Fifteen years ago you couldn’t “google” anything, you used facial tissue and lip balm, you photocopied your paperwork, you put a bandage on your boo boos, and you digitally altered photos to reduce red eye and crop out your exes.  You definitely didn’t use Kleenex and Chapstick, Xerox anything, wear a Band-Aid, and Photoshop your new headshot.

So, when did these products become (what some are calling) verbified or treated as common nouns and is it a good thing?

I want you to think, as a marketer, do you want your company name to become a verb or common noun?  Some think that is the highest honor bestowed on a brand.  Why wouldn’t they? Your company name is so integrated into the social culture that it is synonymous with the product you are selling.  Millions of people say your company name everyday.  Great marketing, right?  Well…it might not be everything it’s cracked up to be.  For example, it pushes a company to be a bit more strategic with their efforts.  Imagine your company is synonymous with a certain product and then you want to expand your product offerings.  You must now decide if you would like to utilize the current brand image of the products you’ve been selling in order to push the new product, or create a new product line under a different name.  When Clorox picked up Hidden Valley they didn’t want their company associated with ranch dressing, so they kept the name Hidden Valley.  Can you imagine the public reaction with an ad campaign selling “New Ranch Dressing by Clorox.” Yikes.

When product names become common nouns or verbs it leads to genericide, which is a nightmare for the legal department.  Essentially, it puts your product name into a position where it no longer has any legal or trademark protection.  Now, the product concept, imaging, and name that you’ve worked so hard to develop has no legal standing.  Trademark expert at Georgetown University, Rebecca Tushnet, said the risk of genericide is so low, the benefits outweigh the risk.  Is that a risk that you are willing to take?

Perhaps one of the most apparent verbified companies is Google.  How do they feel about it?  They might not be in love with the idea of Google becoming synonymous with searching the internet.  According to the New York Times, they have created wording on their policy page that says “Google” is not to be used as a noun or verb, only as a adjective.  They prefer you say “Google Search Engine.”  However, defines Google as “searching the internet for information.” So you can google without using Google.

What do you think?  Is it in a company’s best interest to become a common noun or become verbified?  Is it the highest honor, or a detriment to a company’s brand image?

Pay When You Hit Play.

June 23, 2014

YouTube has become much more than the land of viral cat cuteness and cringeworthy-yet-catchy music  videos. Today, both content creators and subscribers have different relationships with the platform. YouTubers like beauty guru Zoella and gamer PewDiePie earn a living from their content thanks to the millions of viewers who watch their channels every day.

But what if you had to pay a fee to access YouTube?


Would you pay to watch YouTube videos?

As Google recently confirmed plans to introduce an ad-free subscription music service for the platform, things are moving in that direction. The fee-based service will be limited to music for now, but it could eventually apply to other popular categories like beauty and gaming. If so, YouTube uniquely challenges Netflix and Hulu for paid content subscribers by being a medium for creators of any skill level to publish content. Netflix and Hulu libraries feature movie and television shows, but YouTube is all about, well, you.

It will be interesting to see how Google, content creators, subscribers, and competing subscription services handle the shift.

Will YouTube successfully evolve its brand or is the move destined for failure due to established consumer expectations of the platform?


Step 1 in Marketing

December 17, 2013

MarketingIntegrated marketing communications is an elaborate concoction that requires skill, creativity, understanding, and confidence.  There is no easy 10-step process designed to guarantee results and answer all company problems.  If your marketing plan and company strategy are based off of a collection of step-by-step lists create by gurus and marketing scientists (probably selling $1,000 seminars), please….please back away from the computer.  No one, I repeat, NO ONE out there has a guaranteed quick fix for any of your social media, company, advertising, or marketing needs.  I can tell you this, the best thing, the very best thing you can do for your marketing and for your company is to hire good people.

It sounds basic.  It sounds like a no brainer, but as I progress through my degree program and my “early years” as a marketing professional I can tell you from a marketer’s perspective and a customer’s perspective, too many companies don’t get it.  Last week I had something installed in my office.  I was headed out to a program and couldn’t stay for the entire installation, but prior to leaving the installers admitted the item was damaged and there was debris between the background and plexi cover.  I provided them with tools to help remedy the situation.  I returned from the program (which they attended) to find the following: 1. Dust and drywall on the floor and desk 2. A chip in the corner of the item 3. Tools thrown on my desk haphazardly 4. Three cracks in the plexi cover 5. Uneven edges around the plexi 6. No note.  Now, I was a little surprised because we’ve used these installers in the past and have typically done a great job.  I emailed them asking their thoughts on some improvements that could be made and was shocked at their response.  They committed the worst business act imaginable (OK maybe not worst, but from a customer perspective it’s pretty bad).  They did a sub-par job, knew they did a sub-par job, and they were not going to do anything to fix it until I emailed them.  My jaw dropped.  Since when is it OK to not deliver on a brand promise?

In that same week, I had another issue with my eye doctor.  The experience with them so far had been a bit rocky, but as a marketer I understood they were trying to differentiate themselves from the competition and could cut them a little slack.  I had booked a time to drive an hour and get my new glasses fitted.  I had already talked to two different people and was surprised when I was contacted by a third.  She called to tell me the company that put the new lenses in my glasses broke them.   I called back the next day for clarification and was immediately transferred to a new individual.  The women on the other end explained the situation (which was not as bad as I was lead to believe) and even offered to drive them to a town closer to me so my drive was not as long.  In addition they are fixing the damage and included an additional pair of contacts.  ( I was also having contact issues which lead to me having an extra half of a contact in my eye for three days, but that’s another story.)  Now, the women I spoke with was not required to offer to meet me halfway to deliver my glasses or include an extra pair of contacts, but she did.  She knew that I was disappointed and she cared enough to fix it.  I am willing to bet that there’s no section of the employee manual that says, If you encounter a disappointed customer due to contact and eyeglass issues in the same week and they’re from Whitewater, Wisconsin – please see appendix B.  If that is the case, the HR department has far too much time on their hands.

The take away here is if you hire people that care and like their job, marketing is a whole lot easier.  I’ve encountered people internally that make it difficult to say nice things about a company I have worked for.  I worked there and didn’t want to say nice things because employees treated each other poorly!! Aren’t we all working towards the same goals?  Marketing is not the sole responsibility of the marketing department.  Marketing happens every minute of every day with or without the marketing department.  If you hire good people, they will market the company for you.  Customers and employees will talk about the fantastic experiences they had and that is more valuable than 100 direct mail brochures.

IMC During a Trip to the Windy City

August 27, 2013

Last weekend I went on a mini-vacation to Chicago before classes started again.  I don’t know where the time went between classes, but it was good to get out of town and get refocused!  During the trip, I couldn’t help but think of the many levels of IMC happening in the various locations we visited.

One of the great sales promotions we took advantage of was the Chicago City Pass.  We were able to skip lines, gain admission to a variety of locations, and get a discount on food and other items.  Because of the City Pass, we visited locations we would have ordinarily skipped.  Most locations had great signage and made customers feel like a VIP with City Pass access.  Prior to purchasing the City Pass, I looked for reviews via social media.  As with most products or services, there were mixed reviews.  Some locations treated the City Pass differently.  All locations followed the guidelines however, there were inconsistencies in customer service.

Overall, I noticed the glaring differences in customer service across locations in the city.  At times, we were even ignored by sales associates.  It seemed as though some of the locations were unaware of the impact customer service has on a brand.  As I traveled through the Skydeck, Shedd Aquarium, The Field Museum, the John Hancock Observatory, and Navy Pier, I couldn’t help but think about the layering of branding that occurs.  Customers will form opinions about the initial location.  For example, we had a great time at the Shedd Aquarium, but a less than desirable time at the Skydeck.  Those experiences impact the brand of those two facilities.  Both of those locations we visited because wephoto(2) had the City Pass.  So those experiences impacted our opinions and feelings about the City Pass.  We loved our hotel and the Hancock Observatory, but were not pleased with the service at the restaurant we visited on Navy Pier, and I got very tired of having our photo taken at every location we visited.  Those experiences impact how we talk about our overall trip and the city of Chicago.

I also see this “nesting” at work.  I work in a student union, and our customers view what happens in our building as being the responsibility of our organization.  If a student has good or bad food, they associate that with our union, even though dining services is a separate entity.  It is not in our best interest for us to try to make those differentiations.  So, we all work together for the greater good, the brand image of the union.

Our overall trip to Chicago was great and there were a lot of consistencies working toward the brand image of the city while maintaining the individuality of the locations we visited.  The architecture was beautiful and many of the locations we visited had similar banners out front (tying the museums together) and consistent imaging for the City Pass (which helped customers easily utilize it).

Consistency is always key in IMC and branding.  Take a look at Disney.  They strive for each customer, no matter which part of Disney they visit, to have the same experience.  When you get off the plane, when you call the front desk, when you visit the locations, each person says, “Have a magical day.”  These tactics have helped create Disney’s brand.  I don’t think the city of Chicago needs to develop a similar style however, each level (the city, the City Pass, the individual locations) should strive for consistencies.  That’s what customer service and identity standards are for after all!

What are your experiences with “nested branding?”  Any other cities, multi-location companies out there very successful?

Let’s {Not} Talk About Branding

August 5, 2013

Everywhere you go branding seems to be a hot button issue.  “Pick us! We can help you create your brand!”

Screen Shot 2013-07-31 at 8.46.51 PM

So often branding, or your brand, is viewed as something we need to do or talk about.  As our beloved IMC 618 class and Marty Neumeier taught us, a brand isn’t what you say it is, it’s what your customers say it is.  Yes, companies have some control over their brand however, it really boils down to how your customers view your product, service, or organization.  That being said, companies and organizations need to stop talking about branding, or a brand, as something you can completely manipulate and control.  Discussions around branding should stem from a great understanding of who you are as an organization and how you are viewed by your clients.  Your promise to them (who you say you are) should be the foundation for every major decision within your organization.

A few years ago, my organization went through what we lovingly refer to as our Branding Project.  We created a process, similar to the Brand Gap, in which we reevaluated who we were as an organization and how we were viewed by the students on our campus.  It was a very long process that we’re still developing today.  Yes, we did come out of the project with a shiny new logo, but that wasn’t the most important development.  We also came out of the project with a much deeper understanding of who we are, why that matters, and what we need to do in order to live up to the expectations of students on campus  Now, a company can’t be all things to all people and by staying true to your brand you may lose people.  That’s ok! Your remaining customers will become more invested and you will find new customers.  It’s important to think of branding as attempting to align your identity (internal) and your image (external).

Screen Shot 2013-07-31 at 8.47.53 PM

If a company aims to improve their brand image, and discussions on branding need to occur, those conversations should run the gamete of the entire organization, not focus solely on the marketing department.  Are your employees happy and do they treat customers with respect?  What kind of environment are customers stepping into when they walk into your business?  Is the facility clean and welcoming?  Do your customers understand the message you’re trying to convey?  Many times, companies measure the results of initiatives aimed to improve their brand image in a marketing scope.  Increased brand awareness is equated to increased website traffic, more engagement on social media, or an increase in sales.  Those are all great measurement tools however, companies and organizations must measure the content of the message as well as the effectiveness of the  marketing.  Organizations today should set separate branding and marketing goals.  Think about measuring the effectiveness of the content and the effectiveness of the content placement.

It is extremely important for your organization to take their brand image and identity into consideration every day.  However, a shift needs to occur from talking ABOUT branding, to talking from a branding perspective.  Incorporate how you want your customers to view you into every aspect of your organization and you’ll find greater success!