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posted by Apprentices Jan 27,2012 @ 02:00AM

On decades.

What decade would you like to be living in right now?

Julie Turner
This one. I am master of my own destiny and have a beautiful family and inspiring group of friends. The eighties were fun and all but I'll take now hands down.

Kevin Smith
The 80's of course. It was a wonderful time for television. Commercials were never better.

Cathy Monetti
I'm pretty happy in this decade. The world is changing so fast, I can't wait to see what's next!

Maria Fabrizio
Early 60's. I'd be able to do everything by hand since the computer wouldn't exist yet and I'd also like to have beehive hair.

Will Weatherly
40's: Music and film, but mostly to be a fly on the wall during Kerouac's US excursions.

Ryon Edwards
1960's - for the music, man. Peace.

Jody Piland
The 80's. Awesome music, awesome clothes, awesome hair. Need I say more?

Kevin Archie
The 1940's have always resonated with me because of the music — big band swing and the beginning of bebop jazz — but I would much rather be living in the present where I can enjoy that same music without having to live during a world war.

What's your ideal decade?

posted by Cathy Monetti Jan 25,2012 @ 10:39AM

The Rise (and Fall?) of Brand Paula Deen

I find Paula Deen to be utterly magnetic. Her allure goes way beyond charm, I think; I want to hang out with her, to sit on that magnificent Lowcountry porch and dish about the neighbors, to be invited over for Thanksgiving dinner with Michael and the boys. (I would bring Bourbon Cranberry Sauce, and it would be a Big Hit.)

Isn't that just the effect a really great brand has on you? I can see Paula as part of my life, a celebrity friendship as casual and easy as any meaningful relationship in my life.

So I was heartbroken to watch her appearance on The Today Show last week when she announced the Type 2 Diabetes diagnosis. Not so much because of the disease—I believe she will successfully manage it—but because the entire handling of the announcement was such a debacle.

How I wish I had been Paula Deen's brand consultant when she learned of the diagnosis three years ago. (Of course, the report that her longtime publicist resigned last month after Paula began hawking a diabetes drug indicates the Food Network star didn't follow the counsel she received anyway.) But I would have made a powerful pitch to her—one she may never have thought about or considered—and that perspective, I believe, could have changed every misstep that followed.

At issue is the protection of a multi-million dollar brand built around the very culprit in this significant and dangerous health diagnosis: rich, fatty, unhealthful Southern recipes. Paula and her team created an empire promoting comfort food, beginning with The Lady and Sons Savannah, Georgia restaurant, then expanding in every direction—publishing of cookbooks and magazines, multiple television shows, an extensive line of signature cookware, online and retail interests. A heavy consideration in the what do we do about this diagnosis discussion, no doubt, was Dean's endless array of "strategic partnerships" with other national brands, including Walmart, Smithfield, Harrah’s, International Greeting and, to name just a few.

Here, apparently, was the Protect the Brand strategy:

  1. Wait three years to publicly announce that she has Type 2 Diabetes, all the while continuing to expand—rather than refining—her brand
  2. Form another strategic partnership, but with a drug company rather than a highly respected, mission-driven nonprofit
  3. Make the diabetes announcement during a live segment on The Today Show, an appearance in which she was (uncharacteristically) nervous and disingenuous

How did a brilliant business woman capable of such extensive brand expansion come to make so many poor crisis communications decisions? Contrary to popular opinion, I don't believe greed is the heart of the issue. (Pollyanna, I know. But I don't.)

I believe the problem is having a brand strategy based on this flawed core premise:

Brand Paula Deen = Southern Cooking

Wrong. So wrong. This powerful brand is based on one thing that should have been protected at all cost, but wasn't:

Brand Paula Deen = the authenticity of Paula Deen, herself

I can't think of another celebrity more utterly charming and disarming in her honesty. Likely to say anything at any time, she lights up stage and screen by saying exactly what she's thinking—and what we are thinking, too, but are too timid to say.

How powerful it could have been had she announced the diagnosis early, long before she had "something to bring to the table." What if, three years ago, she'd said:

I didn't expect this. I don't know enough. I am afraid.

What if she'd invited us all to take this very human journey with her, changing our lifestyles and habits and menus, one day at a time, together.

Would her brand have disintegrated? Would the Food Network have dropped her? Would corporate partners have abandoned her?

Would we?

I surely don't think so.

Paula Deen, the person, will survive this misstep, I do believe. But the brand has suffered a severe blow. And the best thing it can do (I sure hope it moves quickly) is to get real about what Paula Dean, the brand, stands for. I, for one, think there is way more there than just another stick of butter.


posted by Ryon Edwards Jan 24,2012 @ 04:35AM

New Work: Paradise Valley Estates

We've been busy creating new work for Paradise Valley Estates, a continuing care retirement community in beautiful Northern California just south of Napa Valley. After we conducted several discovery sessions, we developed brand positioning and message strategy. We designed and updated logos and created a fresh new identity package as well as print advertising and a sales collateral system . The campaign emphasizes the fact that residents can enjoy an active and adventurous lifestyle at Paradise Valley Estates. We enlisted the talent of photographer George Fulton, who captured the personality of PVE beautifully. And going live very soon will be a new website by our WECOmates truematter. Thanks to everyone involved on this project!

posted by Kevin Archie Jan 20,2012 @ 05:31AM

On jingles.

What's your favorite jingle?

Pete Anderson
Chock Full o' Nuts

Julie Turner
The ones that come from Christmas bells. They still ring for me.

Ryon Edwards
Coca Cola - "I'd like to teach the world to sing"

Will Weatherly
Hmmm. Favorite would take a while. Personally most memorable?..."Herndon Chevrolet---Herndon makes you wanna SMILE!" My Honda will die some day, but that jingle will follow me forever.

Kevin Archie
Rush's - "You'll rush back for more" // Their burgers are so delicious they don't even need a relevant brand.

Teresa Coles
The Backpacker, the great outdoor connection…
The Backpacker, what a great selection!

Kevin Smith
Leon Jones Insurance's "Driven to be the best."

posted by Teresa Coles Jan 18,2012 @ 02:00AM

TEDx Columbia: A beautiful day

Yesterday, I had the privilege of joining 14 other speakers and performers at the inaugural TEDx Columbia event. What began for me as an Oh my God, how will I ever have time to prepare for this item on my never-ending list became a transformative experience second only to CreateAthon, my subject de jour.

While I was more than humbled to have the opportunity to spread the CreateAthon gospel on such a distinguished stage, I was more moved by the cumulative effect of the day. It crept inside me as these words bounced in and out of every conversation.

What if. Who knew. We can. You can. I did. I asked. Yes.

There also was a lot of talk during the day about Columbia and the undiscovered potential of our city as evidenced by the talent, intellect and passion of everyone assembled at TEDx Columbia. The mere fact that we “did TEDx” was viewed as a great achievement. Certainly it was.

I submit the greater outcome of the day, however, lies in a heightened awareness of the other. Look at what that other person is doing. Look at the terrible thing that happened to her, and what she did with it. Look at the risk he took.

TEDx gave us a day to put down our own ego-driven lens and peer through the lens of the other. To soak in our fellow man’s distinctive experiences, and to consider just how vital it is that we all see the world a little bit differently.

After all, if two of us are exactly the same, one of us is irrelevant (to quote Jay Coles).

I think the world’s a little more beautiful today, being reminded of that.

So many thanks to the incredible TEDx Columbia team and fellow speakers for inviting me to be part of this incredible experience, for working so hard to make it such a success, and for entering my life as new friends.

posted by Kevin Archie Jan 16,2012 @ 10:00AM

Métro Signage

The Métropolitain – Paris' rapid transit metro system – has 245 different stations within 34 square miles of Paris, many of them exhibiting unique interiors that set them apart from the rest. I had the opportunity to witness this firsthand on a recent trip to Paris several weeks ago.

Abbesses - Its chipped tiled type contrasts well with these round yellow chairs that could have been pulled straight from a Herman Miller catalog.

Concorde - A 100+ year old stop with a grid of letters spelling out the Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen, a fundamental document of the French Revolution (wall of type=revolutionary idea).

The Métro signs at each entrance also differed from each other at different stops. These variations were not nearly as widespread, however, and their usage seemed random and non-specific to location. I did some research to find out why.

This is one of the 83 original surviving art nouveau entrances and is seen as an iconic symbol of Paris. It was designed by Hector Guimard in 1900 and its style caused much surprise and controversy. This is the primary stop we used on our trip (Abbesses) and it's also one of the three remaining entrances with a more elaborate glass canopy.

This simpler version, a metal balustrade accompanying a "Métro" sign crowned by a spherical lamp, could be found in early stations around 1910.

This one has a similar type treatment to the previous, but is simplified even more with its stronger sans serif lettering placed onto a stone wall.

Signposts with just an "M" have become the norm since the 1970's to present.

To see more pictures from the trip, check out my Flickr feed.


posted by Apprentices Jan 13,2012 @ 02:00AM

On super powers.

If you could have a super power for one day,
what would it be?

Cathy Monetti
I would like to be able to fly.

Kevin Smith
Time travel.

Ryon Edwards
Super beard-growing power.

Julie Turner
To be able to fly to and visit far-flung places across the planet. But, I'd want to do touristy things, not let commuter trains ride across my shoulders because some crazy wanker blew up a bridge.

Teresa Coles
Turbo power. I could get so much work done in one day, I could take the rest of the week off!

Maria Fabrizio
To be able to hit command + Z and have it apply to real life.

Kevin Archie
I would have the unheard of superhuman ability to avoid procrastination.

Pete Anderson
Flight, both on Earth and through space.

Illustration by Ryon Edwards

posted by Ryon Edwards Jan 11,2012 @ 04:29AM

Type Observed: HOBO

I see the typeface "Hobo" in a lot of different places — labels, signs, posters, logos – the list goes on. I once thought that this was one of the ugliest type designs out there, but I now realize that it's not the design itself, or even the terrible name — it's mostly because of how it's used and misused. Of all the type crimes out there (thank you Ellen Lupton:, you'll often find Hobo as a nearby accomplice. And I've certainly made my jokes about this "awful" typeface over the years, but once I studied the origin and the history of this design, I've become much less critical.

Stylistically, Hobo looks like something crafted from 1970's, but was actually designed in 1910 towards the end of the Art Noveau Movement. It was designed by Morris Fuller Benton, one of America's most prolific typeface designers. After closer examination, the letters are actually well-proportioned (when typeset properly) — every part of each letter is curved, which gives it a decorative effect, but with a modern twist. It's lowercase letters are unique — descenders that do not drop below the baseline. Yeah, it's weird — but it's designed to be a display type. Fairly progressive for 1910, considering that most typography from that period was very decorative and ornate.

So I'm no longer a Hobo-hater. I just hate seeing it being misused.

Note: If you've seen examples of Hobo type out there (good or bad), please send some pics my way - I'm starting a collection of images and would love to include yours! Thanks.




posted by Teresa Coles Jan 10,2012 @ 02:00AM

5 Trends for Nonprofits = 1 Big Challenge

"Greater emphasis on strategy, organizational alignment and process design will be applicable to all nonprofits, large or small. Essentially, being more sophisticated and savvy when it comes to supporter engagement won't be just a ‘nice to have' — it will be a necessity."

This from Vinay Bhagat, founder and chief strategy officer for Convio, as commentary to support their predictions of Key Trends for the Nonprofit Sector in 2012. A quick look at these five indicates the significant challenges organizations are up against:

  1. Online and New Media Channels Will Continue To Extend Their Influence
  2. Peer-to-Peer Engagement Will Play An Expanded Role
  3. Donor Fatigue Will Be More Pronounced
  4. Supporters Want To Control Their Experience
  5. Integrated Marketing Will Rise To New Heights

So what's at the bottom of all this? Is there one thing nonprofits can call on to help address these complex marketing issues?

Yes. It’s called strategy.

After a couple of years basking in the glow of social media tactics, nonprofits must accept the consequences of all the “free and easy” noise that has resulted in a highly crowded nonprofit marketplace. One in which the consumers who have been bombarded with so many cause-related digital messages may be considering a way out (see points 3 and 4).

On the other hand, nonprofits that design and deploy well orchestrated, multi-channel marketing initiatives — with highly focused objectives, clearly defined audiences, and a razor-sharp message — will not only prevent “donor fatigue” but also attract and engage record levels of supporters (see points 1, 2 and 5).

But it’s neither free nor easy. Planning integrated, multi-channel marketing programs is hard, and it demands a tremendous amount of focus, self-discipline and attention to detail. Start now with an assessment of current marketing efforts, give yourself an honest grade, and commit to a marketing program in 2012 that is built on an integrated, strategic platform that takes into consideration these five consumer predictions. Then stand back and watch the magic.

posted by Cathy Monetti Jan 06,2012 @ 12:51PM

Lee Clow's Beard

The best tweet I've seen in a long, long time.





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