I think I trust you…

HTSAF_iThinkiA survey* was recently released with two startling statistics that revealed 42% of consumers found brands less trustworthy today, while 48% believed brands can have a positive impact on the world. Now those are two opposite sides of the spectrum if we ever saw one. But more importantly, how do we bridge this interesting divide?

After going through some thoughts about politics they touched on the most interesting path: Understanding the culture of your target consumer and effectively tapping into it remain key. So, building your brand and its identity around a cultural insight is paramount. Find it. Inspire and positively provoke your target with it. Then craft and design your creative campaign around it.

Lastly, be relentless in searching out these cultural insights. Remember, insights are not facts. They are something you discover about your brand or consumers that no one else can own. They belong to you. So say “NO” to the obvious. Reject the ordinary. And, initiate around the extraordinary. So who’s bridging this gap today, you ask? Here are a few off the top of our heads:

  • Subaru — Recognition for LGBT campaign
  • Tesla — Being forthright about their mistakes, and fixing them
  • Chick-fil-A — Authentic and plain spoken
  • Dove — Authenticity and respect through their  “Love the skin you’re in” campaign

What Sparks Our Fire? Waking up everyday searching for insights that emotionally connect brands with consumers.

*The ‘Truth About America’ report from McCann


Let’s Be Frank: Industry Turbulence: How Virgin America is Disrupting the Airline Industry Once Again


People often use the term disruption to separate their marketing efforts and way of thinking…Virgin America “has learned to think like its disruptive clientele” says Fast Company. The magazine has honored them on their 2015 Most Innovative Companies List.

Rightly so. Their CMO says “we see ourselves as more of an incubator”. Well, a close look reveals some extraordinary strides in truly disrupting the category. Virgin America already had moonlit cabins, wi-fi, and lots of fun games. But in 2014 they took things to a whole new level and engaged their travelers with unconventional thinking. They established a group of entrepreneurial consumers who acted as a brain trust for ideas such as as an in-flight social network that connects travelers. They also designed an eye catching new website that attracted a base of loyal fans who went on to sign a petition that helped open two gates at Dallas Love Field. And took their safety video to a whole new level that generated over 10 million views onYouTube.  One truly cool and disruptive idea after another sets this airline marketer apart.

Virgin America, a category of one.

Let’s Be Frank: Curiously Rewarding

I just returned from Florence, Italy where my curiosity for art and fashion were again refreshed and enlivened. A must see, was the Pontormo and Rosso Fiorentino exhibition at the Strozzi Palace and the beautiful leather and suede handcrafted creations by the Tattanelli family.

On the flight back I read my current issue of Vanity Fair with Jon Hamm on the cover. Now, I find out that because I’m an avid reader of this magazine, I was “born curious.” This is the current mantra for their new branding campaign promoting the print, digital video, and online editions. Interesting.

I’ll review my family tree to see if this trait is genetically grounded or a product of my environment. That should be fun. Meanwhile I checked out their online video to see where they were going. Pretty darn smart. Thanks Graydon Carter and company for making this branding message “curiously rewarding.”

Let’s Be Frank: An Ode to Smart


It seems like every brand and client is on the “smart” bandwagon these days.

Turn on your new Samsung TV and SMART is very likely to be the first thing you see. Walk down the street and see a compact, SMART car. Most phones these days are SMARTphones, and the any other cellular device is known colloquially as a dumbphone.

Amazon fashion smart billboard

You can find SMART Brand Promotions on Facebook, and big brands market “smart” across the board, an example being Amazon, with their Smart Is Beautiful fashion campaign, or the multitude of Smart is the New Cool or Smart is the New Sexy campaigns.

Why the rush to Smart?

Perhaps it’s the culture we live in and the human desire to feel good about ourselves. (This seems to be in short supply these days.) Maybe it’s the immediate opt-in connection point that brings emotion into play for brands. And if content is king, shouldn’t smart be the king of content marketing. Why? Because people are likely to connect with smart as it relates to their immediate behaviors. The things they love to do and the brands that totally meet their needs.

Hmm. Maybe SMART is “sensible, modern and remarkable thinking” and this ode is a sensible keeper for brands in the long run.