Monthly Archives: June 2023

ESG and Brand Strategy.


Environment, Social, and Governance (ESG) values are smart pathways for successful contemporary businesses. They are NOT, in my opinion, values belonging in a brand strategy. Not as such. Perhaps tangentially, as in a brand value may give you credit for being an environmentally friendly company, but not explicitly. Being ESG focused is the price of entry today. In brand work you want your values to be more endemic.  Built on customer care-abouts and brand good-ats. Not values universal to other companies. So, as “fresh ingredients” are important to a Thai restaurant, they are also important to a French restaurant. Not a good brand value.  And, the fact that they hire LGBT+ people, though important and critical to the culture and even food, it’s better to dig more deeply into the food and people for values. There is always something there – something unique to your brand.

So to recap, ESG good for business, not brand building. Not today. Being different is the key to branding. Being the same is the key to manufacturing.




I’m Still Cormac-in’.


“I’ve been a full-time professional writer for 28 years and I’ve never received a royalty check. That, I’ll betcha, is a record.” Cormac McCarthy, 1987

If you don’t know Cormac you don’t know Jack (Casady).  Cormac is a great American author who toiled mightily until he won a Pulitzer in literature. He didn’t make any money doing what he loved until later in life — something I can appreciate. Not that I haven’t made any money as a brand planner, but I really haven’t cashed in on this blogging thing. Well over 3000 brand strategy blog posts later and I can actually attribute a couple hundred dollars, 3 dinners and a massage to my blog.  All from the same engagement.

As with Cormac, I keep typing. I keep sharing. And I keep creating.  Not sure a Pulitzer is in my future, but maybe an Effie or a 4As Account Planning Award.

If you do what you love, you win. I love brand strategy. And as Cormac might have said “I ain’t dead yet.”

Peace be upon you.

PS. Welcome to the world Ruby.



Benefit Shoveling.


What do you do?

It’s a question that bounces back and forth at cocktail parties, breweries and work events.  There are a couple of ways to answer: a short form, couple-of-word answer, or go in-depth. In branding, I always encourage the former. Hit them with the Is-Does. What a brand product Is and what it does.

Brands communicators don’t always follow this advice.  They think they need to sell and explain by the pound or by the word. It can leave audiences confused and/or fatigued. Good creative directors know this. They tell a simple story with a beginning, middle and end. A so-called narrative. Problem is, that narrative isn’t often based upon brand strategy.  (Post for another time.)

So back to simple. Was it Benjamin Franklin who said (I paraphrase)  “If I had more time, I would have written a shorter letter?” 

Marketing is made simple through brand strategy.  It’s objective driven. It provides proof of value. It’s measurable. And it leaves consumers with a gravity or gravitas constructed on care-abouts and good-ats.  It is the oppo of benefit shoveling, a meme I like to share which is the bane of marketers worldwide.

Brand strategy, it’s what’s for dinner.




Influencers and SMEs.


I ran across a LinkedIn post yesterday, the topic of which was Creatorpreneurs — defined as content creators who make money. I’ve been around the web for many years working with AT&T data services during the Pleistocene so I’ve seen some evolution and trends. As an ad person working in telecommunications, getting smarter in technology required asking a lot of questions, reading a lot of literature and following smart people (SMEs- subject matter experts.)  In the early days that meant face-to-face and phone communications and reading a lot of trade magazines. But seeking out, following and communicating with smart people was how it was done.

With the advent of social media SMEs have given way to Influencers. Influencers may be pretty. Handsome. Funny. They may simply have access to SMEs. Or they may be good writers or video editors. They give advice. Sometimes shallow and paid-for advice. It’s a living. Creatorpreneurs.

Well, it’s gotten out of hand and some recent research backs me up.  When a person’s qualifications to advise is not based on their knowledge but the number of their followers we are getting off-piste. Learning from the web can be great (Khan Academy) but it can also be silly (bad AI).  The world needs more sharing from SMEs, less sharing from Influencers. SMEs make the world go round. Influencers make the party go round.

In the business world get you some SME.