Friday, September 17, 2010

Brandsinger anthem

Not many folks know that Brandsinger, the Brandsinger team, and our clients and colleagues have an anthem. This theme song captures our philosophy and stand-up style. Here:

So listen up. Whatever you do – brand strategy, creative design, public affairs, product naming, brand architecture, executive workshops, business writing or any and all other forms of communicating – heed the wisdom and spirit of the Watts 103rd St. Rhythm Band.

'press yourself.


Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Creating the classic image ad

You've heard people lament that something is a "lost art" – for example fist-fighting, lately replaced by shoot-outs. Another lost art is graciously receiving neighbors who drop in while you are screaming.

But one art has not been lost – spending gobs of money for beauteous image ads in The Economist. (...the magazine that casts grubby profit-seeking in the voice of a witty Englishman.)

Corporate image advertising follows certain conventions (listed below with the ad for the mining company Vale). One key is to open with a blunt, brave-sounding statement like this: "Just like you, we're inquisitive. We question things. Always asking ourselves: What will tomorrow bring?" Then the image ad moves to predictable claims ("We use innovative technology") until you reach a thundering conclusion, in this case a veiled threat: "Vale. There is no future without mining."

This particular ad copy is partly written on light background so that it can't be read... probably because everyone agreed that it's so boring ("We're also present in forests") and so trite ("We don't have all the answers") that no one cares whether readers can make out the words. The main purpose of image advertising, after all, is to spend gobs of money in The Economist to appear in the company of witty Englishmen.


Sunday, September 12, 2010

Of Architect Brands and 9/11

It’s curious how brand names come to mind even in the most profound of reveries.

I was in Manhattan yesterday on the anniversary of the attacks of 9/11. It was a September day as sunny and beautiful as the one on September 11, 2001, and I paused in Bryant Park to read the New York Times’ advice on “the right way to remember 9/11.”

Surely the Times, of all voices, would have it “right.” And here’s what I was instructed:

Nine years after terrorists destroyed the World Trade Center, a memorial and a transportation hub are taking recognizable shape and skyscrapers are finally starting to rise from the ashes of ground zero. The physical rebirth is cause for celebration on this anniversary.

This is a far more fitting way to defy the hate-filled extremists who attacked the United States on Sept. 11, 2001 and to honor their victims, than to wallow in the intolerance and fear that have mushroomed across the nation.

Then, with a slam at “bigotry" nurtured by people in positions of power “including prominent members of the Republican Party,” the parade of celebrity architects began:

“Michael Arad’s emerging memorial”…. a skyscraper taking shape “by the Japanese architect Fumihiko Maki”… “the first outlines of Santiago Calatrava’s elegant PATH station are visible”… followed by compliments to Mayor Bloomberg for exerting his “considerable muscle to make sure the memorial is finished by 2011.”

It’s amazing how bloodless and cement-focused the editorial is. The only passion is directed against Republicans and “politicians – mostly on the right – fanning the public controversy over plans to build an Islamic community center.”

Strange how – on the ninth anniversary of fellow New Yorkers jumping to their deaths from 100-story buildings – the “right way” to remember the attacks is by reciting the names of big-brand-name architects and sniping at politicians you don’t like.

Is that the “right” way? As I sat in Bryant Park yesterday on a brilliant September 11th, the brands that came to my mind were Boeing, American Airlines, United, FDNY, NYPD, and Cantor Fitzgerald, the financial firm located on the 101st to 105th floors of One World Trade Center, which lost 658 employees in the attacks launched not by right-wing bigots and not defended against by brand-name architects.


Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Thank you Drake University brand

Amid the pompous claims and skyrocketing fees of higher education, Drake University has launched a new campaign based on appreciation for modesty. The University is taking serious flak for proclaiming its value under the refreshingly realistic theme "D+." Full story is here:

Hey Drake admissions staff - bravo! I know you are being ridiculed. I know people think, well, why not strive for a C+. But here at Brandsinger, we dig honesty. We love humility. We agree that not every person or institution merits a C+.

So D+ it is! And in fact, D+ to all of higher education while we're at it:

D+ for political correctness on campus that has squelched honest debate of political and social issues.
D+ to the for-profit degree-mills that take students' money and prepare them for unemployment.
D+ to the professors slogging through the unending books of Dante without any discernible relevance and rationale other than their own adoration of The Classics.
D+ to academic posturing, classes based on instructors' hobbies, and monographs no one can understand but the two grad students who did the research.
D+ to sprawling campuses, multimillion-dollar salaries for coaches, plush student unions and higher-than-inflation-rate tuition fees.
D+ to tenure for professors while the rest of us slobs kowtow to bosses, clients and boards of directors.
And D+ to the mean professor I had who, under the guise of being hip, led me to believe he wouldn't fail me if I skipped the mid-term paper.

Thank you Drake University for telling it like it is!

Brandsinger believes in honesty. Our motto is, "To thine own self be true." When I engage 30 students this fall in my NYU grad course in Strategic Communications, I'll be facing the toughest graders on earth: Students