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Zoos Brands and Conservation
Zoo Brands

December / 2 / 2014

Zoos Brands and Conservation

by James Heaton

I asked my 11 year old son if he thought zoos were good or bad. His answer was immediate and unequivocal: "Bad," he said, "I don't like the idea of animals being held in cages." If there is another side to this story, and there is, zoos need to get busy telling it.read more

Branding and Sales: a bank brand story
Bank Brands

November / 14 / 2014

Branding and Sales: a bank brand story

by James Heaton

What happens when you attempt to take over a brand space that is already occupied by a strong competitor?read more

Burning Man and the Brand of America
Branding and Art

October / 31 / 2014

Burning Man and the Brand of America

by Elizabeth Skolnick

Does America have a brand? And if so, what can Burning Man tell us about it?read more

Strategy Workshops
Workshops
BRANDING, MARKETING, ORGANIZATIONAL ALIGNMENT

Strategy Workshops

by James Heaton

Get answers to these and other key questions: "Who is our most natural consumer?" and "Why should they care about our product or service?"read more

2014 Nobel Peace Prize
Peace

October / 10 / 2014

2014 Nobel Peace Prize

by James Heaton

The Nobel Peace Prize is tricky. I must say I do not envy those who have to decide on the recipient for such an award. Is it really even an award, or more of an incitement to do better?read more

City Brands: Dealing with a lack of control
CIty Brands

September / 19 / 2014

City Brands: Dealing with a lack of control

by Ari-Veikko Anttiroiko

Cities have become important actors on the global scene. Metropolitan governments are among the best ‘glocal’ players, sharpening their global influence strategy and improving the management of their brand. International city branding has its undeniable challenges, however.read more

College Brands (Can colleges save millions by having better brands?)
College Brands

September / 8 / 2014

College Brands (Can colleges save millions by having better brands?)

by James Heaton

How strong is the average college brand? How well are America's liberal arts colleges able to meaningfully differentiate themselves from each other?read more

Millennials and Museums: Oil and Water?
Millennials and Museums

August / 25 / 2014

Millennials and Museums: Oil and Water?

by Elizabeth Skolnick

What chance does the museum world have with millennials? Are millennials and museums really oil and water? Let's hear the story from the horse's mouth.read more

Museum Camp: Can you take it with you?
Museum Camp

August / 8 / 2014

Museum Camp: Can you take it with you?

by James Heaton

With Museum Camp (now in its second year), Nina Simon is trying to find a way to infect our thinking long enough for it to dent our obstinate surrounds. We should be trying to help.read more

What I Learned at Museum Camp
Museum Camp

August / 5 / 2014

What I Learned at Museum Camp

by James Heaton

I flew out to California for Museum Camp last week on the power of a hunch—If Nina Simon was doing it, then I would learn a lot. That was a pretty good hunch.read more

The Conversation: Do we know how to have one?
Conversation

July / 18 / 2014

The Conversation: Do we know how to have one?

by James Heaton

Can a group of diverse and interesting New Yorkers sit around a table for dinner and have a SINGLE sustained conversation for at least two hours—no moderator, no side conversations— just a single, contributive, collective, shall I say it...civilized, conversation on a given topic?read more

Mascots as Brand Amplifiers
Branding

June / 18 / 2014

Mascots as Brand Amplifiers

by Kimberly Ketcham

Mascots…those lovable anthropomorphized characters who push cereal, chocolate milk, and tires…are more than just cute tools for marketing to children.read more

Om Marketing (Yoga and Marketing)
Marketing

June / 9 / 2014

Om Marketing (Yoga and Marketing)

by Lisa Munjack

Yoga is about controlling your mind. Marketing is about trying to control other's minds. End of story, right? Not exactly.read more

Brand Power and Its Limits
Branding

May / 30 / 2014

Brand Power and Its Limits

by James Heaton

"Products are made in the factory, but brands are created in the mind." —Walter Landorread more

“Competitors are stealing my ideas.”
Competition

May / 15 / 2014

"Competitors are stealing my ideas."

by James Heaton

"...all strategies aimed at exploiting an innovation, must achieve leadership within a given environment. Otherwise, they will simply create an opportunity for the competition."read more

Dear Social Security Administration…I am me.
UX

April / 29 / 2014

Dear Social Security Administration...I am me.

by James Heaton

In general, the difference between the good and the great can sometimes be a matter of how effectively you sweat the little things, the things that actually matter to people at the human level interface. We call this the tactical user-level interface. Sometimes this is the difference between a positive experience and a negative one. This difference matters for any brand.read more

Museum Visibility: What’s the Problem?
Museums

April / 23 / 2014

Museum Visibility: What's the Problem?

by Elizabeth Skolnick

Within the museum world there seems to be some reluctance to engage with contemporary culture in a deep way. But if you take a look at the museums that are thriving, you will find a willingness to do just that. The museums that are flourishing now exhibit a conscious responsiveness to and engagement with contemporary issues and concerns.read more

Brand Strategy Basics
brand strategy

April / 7 / 2014

Brand Strategy Basics

by James Heaton

Brand strategy gives McDonald's a 27 billion dollar advantage over Burger King. It's important that you understand how this happened, and how it applies to your organization.read more

Branding and Perception: Nailing Jell-O to the Wall
Museum Branding

March / 20 / 2014

Branding and Perception: Nailing Jell-O to the Wall

by James Heaton

The better you understand how the brand of your PLACE operates in the minds of your target audiences, the more effective you can be at engaging with them.read more

Find the Pain: Business to Business Marketing
Marketing

March / 11 / 2014

Find the Pain: Business to Business Marketing

by James Heaton

A marketing message cannot be a glancing blow. It must hit its target squarely in the gut. If the message’s emotional contact point is genuinely painful, it will be much harder to ignore. A mis-targeted message is one that is as if nothing was said. This is, of course, the essence of marketing strategy—know who you are after, read their mind, and speak to what they truly value.read more

The Difference Between Sales and Marketing
Sales and Marketing

February / 28 / 2014

The Difference Between Sales and Marketing

by James Heaton

Sales has the power to change conditions, to transform a situation through the skills of the sales person. Marketing however, generally does not possess such transformative power. Marketing needs to work with conditions as they are. One could simplify and say: Sales is persuasion. Marketing is understanding applied.read more

What is the Brand of New York? (Historic House Museums)
Historic House Branding

February / 17 / 2014

What is the Brand of New York? (Historic House Museums)

by James Heaton

We don't always think of cities as having brands, but they certainly do. While some cultural institutions are actually strong enough to be active builders of the brands of their fair city, most are not, and most historic house museums are certainly not in such a position, but each institution's history and meaning in relationship with the existing brand of its city is a factor in its success.read more

You need a target: What makes a marketing plan strategic?
Strategic Marketing Plan

February / 7 / 2014

You need a target: What makes a marketing plan strategic?

by James Heaton

Finding out what you need to know in order to have a proper marketing strategy is not easy or cheap, but I can pretty much guarantee that what's far more costly is executing a marketing plan without a strategy to guide it.read more

Museums and Race
Museums and Race

January / 20 / 2014

Museums and Race

by James Heaton

Does thinking about race make you racist? No. Does not thinking about race make you racist? Unfortunately sometimes yes. These are uncomfortable issues and hard to look squarely in the eye, but they are standing right in front of you. Time to say hello.read more

Goals & Goats (How do you set strategic SMART goals?)
Strategic Goals

January / 6 / 2014

Goals & Goats (How do you set strategic SMART goals?)

by James Heaton

Strategy is born from deep inspection of the question Why? Why is this goal important? If I cannot get to a good answer to why this goal makes sense in the context of my strategic vision, then the goal is suspect (or the strategy is suspect).read more

Your Brand Idea: Who but Horton can hear it?
Branding

December / 10 / 2013

Your Brand Idea: Who but Horton can hear it?

by James Heaton

If your brand idea is succinct, meaningful and consistently and coherently expressed, it will be able to break free. It will be hearable outside of your brand bubble, outside of Whoville.read more

Marketing and Desire: What can we learn from Buddhists?
Marketing

November / 21 / 2013

Marketing and Desire: What can we learn from Buddhists?

by James Heaton

The cessation of desire leads to the cessation of suffering. —Gautama Buddha (paraphrased) The implication of this, the second of the Four Noble Truths, is that the enlightened are generally not good marketing targets. Fortunately for most marketers this is a very small group.read more

What is marketing strategy?
Marketing Strategy

November / 4 / 2013

What is marketing strategy?

by James Heaton

Marketing strategy allows you to use pathways and footholds that apply your limited marketing budget more effectively (everyone's marketing budget is limited). Marketing strategy facilitates your ability to apply marketing money to the correct half of the Wanamaker equation—the half you are not wasting on audiences who do not value your message.read more

Focus Group Testing Ban (and some better alternatives)
Marketing Research

October / 23 / 2013

Focus Group Testing Ban (and some better alternatives)

by James Heaton

Focus group testing is appealing. I really do get it. In theory, it's a quick and efficient way to find out what you need to know about what people think or how they use your product or service, but in fact it isn't quick or efficient, and it has a dangerous inclination to lead you down false pathways.read more

Is the museum brand god dead?
Museum Branding

October / 7 / 2013

Is the museum brand god dead?

by James Heaton

In a postmodern world—the one we live in now—the AUTHORITY, the curator, the author, the expert—anyone whose charge it is to create grand classifications and assign meaning—has been demoted. This is our Internet paradigm, is it not? The authority is now just one voice among many. What does this mean for museum branding?read more

What if museums were run like successful companies?
Museum Branding

September / 10 / 2013

What if museums were run like successful companies?

by James Heaton

If you are not marketing and innovating, you will be eliminated from the market place. In business this happens all the time. More than 80% of the Fortune 500 companies from 1955 no longer exist. Maybe this sounds like an entirely different world from yours. I'd suggest that it is not.read more

In praise of boredom
Short Essay

September / 6 / 2013

In praise of boredom

by James Heaton

Nothing is not nothing, but something essential that we should be careful to preserve in our lives.read more

Brain Science and Marketing: Role of the Limbic & Reptilian Brains
Marketing and Branding

July / 1 / 2013

Brain Science and Marketing: Role of the Limbic & Reptilian Brains

by James Heaton

You think you are in control. "You"—your sense of self—your highly developed, amazingly capable conscious mind, housed in the big wrinkly hemispheric thing that we most often associate with the brain: the neocortex—is not really in control as much as it thinks. It's just easier for all of us to carry on with this delusion.read more

Marketing of the Bronx Museum
Museum Marketing

May / 15 / 2013

Marketing of the Bronx Museum

by James Heaton

Museums exist in particular places. The Bronx Museum exists in the South Bronx, it's a contemporary art museum located right in the middle of the poorest community in the continental United States. A community that could not be more distant from the stereotype of the white-wall, high-art tradition underpinning much of the aesthetics and behaviors that permeate the world of contemporary art.read more

Marketing is Not Optional
Marketing

May / 3 / 2013

Marketing is Not Optional

by James Heaton

"There are only two things in a business that make money – innovation and marketing, everything else is cost." —Peter Druckerread more

Museums and Motivation (Intrinsic Motivation)
Museums

April / 29 / 2013

Museums and Motivation (Intrinsic Motivation)

by James Heaton

Intrinsic motivation comes from inside. It is inspired by deep-seated interests or from pleasure derived directly from an activity. Intrinsic motivation is critical for long-term or repeated engagement. Intrinsic motivators are effective at supporting sustained, engaged behaviors—the kind I suspect you really want.read more

Museums and Motivation (Trouble with Gamification)
Museums

April / 10 / 2013

Museums and Motivation (Trouble with Gamification)

by James Heaton

How can museums use motivation more effectively to engage visitors and other constituents? What are the dangers and opportunities of the "gamification" trend, and what can museums do with insights obtainable from the motivational factors within games?read more

Mixing Motivation: Danger of Extrinsic Motivation
Motivation

March / 18 / 2013

Mixing Motivation: Danger of Extrinsic Motivation

by James Heaton

"Virtually every type of expected tangible reward made contingent on task performance does, in fact, undermine intrinsic motivation. Furthermore, not only tangible rewards, but also threats, deadlines, directives, and competition pressure diminish intrinsic motivation because, according to cognitive evaluation theory, people experience them as controllers of their behavior." —Richard M. Ryan and Edward L. Deciread more

Tell them the truth.
Branding, SEO

March / 12 / 2013

Tell them the truth.

by James Heaton

"Tell them the truth. First, because it is the right thing to do, and second, they'll find out anyway." —Paul Galvin Ahh the truth. That thing to be finessed if you want to succeed in marketing...NOT.read more

Consumer Insight: Singles (Family Life Cycle for Museums)
Marketing, Museums

February / 28 / 2013

Consumer Insight: Singles (Family Life Cycle for Museums)

by James Heaton

Singles, age 18-35, are a very large and growing population, particularly in metropolitan areas, even relatively small ones. This makes them a very desirable consumer target. They are also important because the habits formed during one's single life are tenacious and strong.read more

Kids Games for Museums
Games, Museums

February / 15 / 2013

Kids Games for Museums

by Herminia Din

When thinking of games for museums it's hard not to let your mind think of hits like “Angry Birds” which had 200-million downloads by May 2011. Players worldwide spend 200 million minutes (=380 years) on the game each day. This demonstrates that people do love to play well crafted snack food style games that have optimized game play mechanics (easy to learn, hard to master) that are addictive and fun. Should museums try to replicate or imitate this? Probably not.read more

SEO and the art of Internet dating
SEO

January / 24 / 2013

SEO and the art of Internet dating

by James Heaton

Is your content useful, timely, relevant, needed? Is it adding something valuable to the MASSIVE conversation that is the contemporary internet? It should be.read more

We Make Mistakes
Short Essay

January / 10 / 2013

We Make Mistakes

by James Heaton

"To swear off making mistakes is very easy. All you have to do is swear off having ideas." —Leo Burnett We Make Mistakes. The trick, of course, is to learn—and to make process changes from that learning—so that on our next pass through that same or a similar gauntlet we exhibit more finesse.read more

The Ideal Client
Short Essay

December / 5 / 2012

The Ideal Client

by James Heaton

We want to make the world better, and for us the way we can do that most effectively is through our clients. So it is important that we choose our clients well. These are the ten questions we currently ask ourselves when we consider if a potential client is likely to be the ideal client for us.read more

Customer Personas: What Sally can show you.
Marketing

October / 3 / 2012

Customer Personas: What Sally can show you.

by James Heaton

A persona is a kind of mental model—an imaginary person with a name, history and story who has a way of doing things. A persona should have enough psychological detail to allow you to conveniently step over to the persona's view, and see your products and services from her perspective.read more

The Science and Art of Marketing
Marketing

September / 19 / 2012

The Science and Art of Marketing

by James Heaton

As marketers we must never be in a position where we are just throwing shit up on the wall to see what sticks. We should be applying our creativity and artistry in execution of a strategic hypothesis that is based on research and genuine insight.read more

Your Name is Your Biggest Brand Asset
Branding

September / 5 / 2012

Your Name is Your Biggest Brand Asset

by James Heaton

Is it better to have a unique name like Kinko's or a more descriptive one like Staples? Is it better to have a name that's actually a person's name like Lowe's or somthing that really clues you in to the core business promise is such as Home Depot? International Business Machines or just a feel good symbol like Apple? There is danger and reward everywhere.read more

I Want a New Website
Marketing

August / 1 / 2012

I Want a New Website

by James Heaton

"I want a new website." There is a certainty in the eyes and voice that pushes back my objections. "That's what we need. Here is what we want it to do. How much will it be?" This desire and clarity of purpose is supported by the belief that a new website will make things all better, like a mommy's kiss.read more

Consumer Insight: Find Your Trim Tab
Marketing

July / 24 / 2012

Consumer Insight: Find Your Trim Tab

by James Heaton

What can you do that will be effective at getting the word out, but will not break the bank? Is there a relatively inexpensive tactical shift can you make right now that will yield significant long term results? The answer is yes. It's just a matter of finding it. It will not be obvious or easy.read more

Historical Game Characters for Museums
Museum Games

July / 11 / 2012

Historical Game Characters for Museums

by James Heaton

We have had to create a few historical game characters for games targeted at kids. Along the was we have acquired some insights that may be useful to others doing the same or similar things.read more

Marketing Mindset: Not to Market is a Crime
Marketing, Advertising

July / 5 / 2012

Marketing Mindset: Not to Market is a Crime

by James Heaton

If your mission, your reason for being in the world—regardless of weather you are a non-profit, a for profit, a museum or an educational institution—is good, then you have no excuse not to market yourself.read more

Optimism Bias in Marketing
Marketing, Advertising

June / 26 / 2012

Optimism Bias in Marketing

by James Heaton

The warning label which works contrary to our tendency toward optimism and self-indulgence misses the potential leverage point because the possible event of a future consequence can be set aside, rationalized away, and, most importantly, simply ignored because we (most of us) are biologically wired to pay little attention to such warnings.read more

Google Makes You Stupid
Social Media

June / 8 / 2012

Google Makes You Stupid

by James Heaton

Always knowing that you can easily find out anything you might want to know without actually having to recall it is really quite new. It strongly undercuts the drive to try and store a lot of different things in your head.read more

Museum Marketing: Think Like a Consumer
Marketing, Museums

May / 31 / 2012

Museum Marketing: Think Like a Consumer

by James Heaton

Odds are you already deliver on what people need. The trick in museum marketing, as in any kind of consumer marketing, is to think beyond what you do or how you do it, and focus on why your target would want it.read more

Call me trim tab.
Marketing

May / 25 / 2012

Call me trim tab.

by James Heaton

So what do you call this thing that does NOT take massive effort, but has the potential for great positive effect far beyond its seeming capacity? I think one very good answer to this question was was provided in 1972 by Buckminster Fuller when he said the following in an interview:read more

Museum Marketing for Non-marketers
Marketing, Museums

April / 10 / 2012

Museum Marketing for Non-marketers

by James Heaton

Marketing is a big term. What is it in the context of a public facing institution like a museum? What is it when you do not have a large or consistent marketing budget or even a dedicated marketing department?read more

Advertising in the Facebook Age: Bronx Museum Free Campaign
Museum Advertising

March / 29 / 2012

Advertising in the Facebook Age: Bronx Museum Free Campaign

by James Heaton

We launched the Free advertising campaign for the Bronx Museum this week as they announce to the world, and particularly to the Bronx, that they are going free to the public. Museum advertising often speaks primarily to the converted. This is an attempt to start up a conversation with museum virgins.read more

Brand Question: Who Are You?
Branding

January / 4 / 2012

Brand Question: Who Are You?

by James Heaton

The key question a brand must answer is, "Who are we?" The best answer to this is one that is short and clear. The answer cannot be, "this, and this, and, oh yes, this." No matter how complex the reality is, a brand's keynote expression must be immediately graspable if it is to have real power. And it still needs to be true.read more

The Difference Between Marketing and Branding
Branding and Marketing

December / 20 / 2011

The Difference Between Marketing and Branding

by James Heaton

What is the difference between marketing and branding? In a recent conversation with a very senior person at a financial institution my colleague was told, "I think private wealth managers will have a hard time seeing the value of branding—they see marketing as a cost center, not a driver of sales." Hold it. How did we go from branding to marketing in one sentence like that?read more

Visual Multitasking
Short Essay

September / 21 / 2011

Visual Multitasking

by James Heaton

One of our new designers is fresh out of school and exudes talent and potential. She also spent her first few working days instant messaging her friends and watching TV shows on Hulu WHILE doing her assigned design work. She was doing what might be called visual multitasking. My art directors, who range in age from their mid 20's to their mid 50's, were shocked by these work habits.read more

Brand Fatigue
Branding

January / 2 / 2011

Brand Fatigue

by James Heaton

My concern with brand fatigue is not that people become tired of a brand, but rather that a businesses and non-profit becomes prematurely tired of their own brand presentation and, as a result, push to change it before it has had the opportunity to fulfill its mission or even fully register and build power in the minds of their brand consumers.read more

Brand Health
Branding

December / 10 / 2010

Brand Health

by James Heaton

A strong brand is not a luxury to be enjoyed only by companies like Nike or Coca-Cola. It is a key factor in the success and prosperity of all businesses and non-profits, regardless of their revenues. Your brand health is guaranteed to have a significant impact on the consumer awareness of your brand AND your bottom line. It directly affects your ability to sell, to fundraise, to hire the best employees, and to grow. A healthy brand is the hallmark of a company or non-profit that is prepared to prosper.read more

Invisible Consequences: How Branding Impacts B2B Sales
B2B

July / 26 / 2010

Invisible Consequences: How Branding Impacts B2B Sales

by James Heaton

How do you get new clients? If you are in the B2B space, the short answer is probably "relationships." You might, for example, know someone socially. They learn about what you or your company does. It turns out they need what you offer and it seems to meet or exceed the standards of quality required by them. They then choose to buy it from you rather than the next guy. Why? Because they know and like you. It's almost as simple as that. Almost.read more

BP Brand Lesson: When Brands Lie
Branding

May / 27 / 2010

BP Brand Lesson: When Brands Lie

by James Heaton

Much has been written and commented about the ongoing BP disaster in the Gulf of Mexico. This story most certainly has a brand lesson. I wonder if the big companies and the agencies that market them are paying attention?read more