Competitive Advantage Diagram

Competitive Advantage Diagram

This diagram maps your brand offer as it relates to consumer needs.read more
Brand Value Map (Brand Map)

Brand Value Map (Brand Map)

Your complete organizational brand value is distilled into 3 pillars, the intersection of which represents your brand value delivered through experience. This helps us assess the means by which your brand promise is fulfilled, and illustrates the rationale for common economic or social transactions that your brand invites.read more
Product-Level Brand Strategy

Product-Level Brand Strategy

In addition to the institutional Brand Pyramid, all products can have their own Brand Pyramids, Brand Maps and Competitive Advantage Diagrams. This allows you to market those products with greater efficiency and effectiveness.read more
Marketing Targets Diagram

Marketing Targets Diagram

The Marketing Targets Diagram presents a strategic hypotheses that clarifies which of your marketing targets should have marketing resources applied toward them, which of them should be addressed by other means, and which are not likely to yield sufficient return on investment in economic or brand terms.read more
You Should Be Paying More Attention to Internal Branding

You Should Be Paying More Attention to Internal Branding

Most think of brands in terms of how they influence the customer—those outside of the company or organization—but a brand must function internally as well. Brands play an important role in attracting top employees and retaining them over time. We advise you not to make the mistake of neglecting this crucial audience.read more
Do performance reviews have to suck?

Do performance reviews have to suck?

Do performance reviews have to suck? It’s a question many people seem to ask. Brief answer: NO. Quite the contrary: they should be a gift and an inspiration. Performance reviews are not small tools to assess individual performance. They are large tools that impact the capacity of an organization to have the effect that it intends in the world.read more
Organizational Alignment

Organizational Alignment

Organizational alignment allows you to complete the loop from marketing communications and your brand promise all the way through to the lived experience of your consumers.read more
History Brands (History and the Mechanisms of the Mind)

History Brands (History and the Mechanisms of the Mind)

We like clean narratives because they are easy to hold and remember. This goes for history, and for branding. What will history make of our time?read more
Culture eats strategy for what?

Culture eats strategy for what?

Does culture eat strategy for lunch? Not really. But will a misaligned culture eat up your strategic efforts? Probably. Does it make sense to pay careful attention to an organization's culture and not just its business strategy? Absolutely!read more
Chicago Zoological Society
Temple Beth Emeth
What is marketing discovery?

What is marketing discovery?

Our marketing discovery process is aided by a set of tools outlined here. We believe that they are some of the best available.read more
"She Who Tells a Story" at National Museum of Women in the Arts

"She Who Tells a Story" at National Museum of Women in the Arts

While the popularity of She Who Tells a Story is undoubtedly affected by the curiosity and national climate of oversimplification and stereotyping that surrounds the Arab world and Iran, the real engine for attendance is the quality of the exhibition itself. (Also, we're proud of our advertising campaign.)read more
What business are you in?

What business are you in?

What business are you in? I have found this question poses a challenge in almost every engagement, surprising participants. It wakes people up as they realize that they cannot answer or cannot agree on the answer. "If we cannot agree on who we are or what business we are in, how is anyone on the outside going to understand or guess right?"read more
What can our strategy workshops do for you?

What can our strategy workshops do for you?

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
On Jim Crane's Shoulders

On Jim Crane's Shoulders

Rarely does a day go by where I do not make use of what I learned from Jim Crane.read more
Tronvig Group Brand Pyramid

Tronvig Group Brand Pyramid

We are developing a Brand Pyramid download that will walk you through the process and pose the questions for your organization, your company or your product. It will walk through how you can use these questions to expose strategic weaknesses and fix them.read more
The Beef Brand

The Beef Brand

Beef has come to be interpreted not just as meat from a cow but rather as the more generic and simplified meat; "If he does not eat beef, he must be a vegetarian." These two brands are differentiated enough and simple enough to make it easy to move between them, A to B. Where does your brand fall on this scheme?read more
The Apple You Eat

The Apple You Eat

Reason indicates that an apple and a sliced apple are equally good, but if examined through the lens of which version of an apple has greater appeal to a specific consumer group, then they are actually very different.read more
What is the downside of free?

What is the downside of free?

If you are a free institution you have both a blessing and a curse. The blessing part is easy to understand—less barrier to entry. The benefits are many. Let’s look though at the curse.read more
If you satisfy your customers you fail.

If you satisfy your customers you fail.

If you satisfy your customers you fail, because in order to succeed you must deeply satisfy the customer for whom your product is most naturally suited.read more
Food Flight from China (or How I Learned to Hate Ginger & Love Yogurt)

Food Flight from China (or How I Learned to Hate Ginger & Love Yogurt)

Tom from the UK and I met over a pile of someone else's food. We were both staying in a hostel that for some reason was underground and connected to a night club in Chengdu the capital of Sichuan Province adjacent to Tibet.read more
Price and Pleasure

Price and Pleasure

Does it feel better to pay a lot for something? If we pay a lot for something we need it to be good.read more
Strategic Plan (Carpe Diem)

Strategic Plan (Carpe Diem)

We traveled safely from Washington D.C. to New York on the 7PM train Tuesday, May 12th. The 7:10PM train which could just as easily have been our train was not so lucky. On hearing the news that we were unharmed I got an email from our client in D.C. with the sign-off "carpe diem."read more
Strategy Primer

Strategy Primer

Strategy is a very misused word. Marketing strategies are—if you look at how the word is used—any marketing activity that might possibly work. People talk about "strategies" such as "posting to Facebook more."read more
Visual Brand and 360 Brand: What's the difference?

Visual Brand and 360 Brand: What's the difference?

What is the difference between a visual brand and a true 360 brand? How do you get your organization to think beyond just the visual brand?read more
Bigger is better ... right?

Bigger is better ... right?

Hiring a big and flashy agency may seem "safe." But think about what they stand to gain by working with an organization of your size and budget. You may find that you're actually sacrificing the responsiveness, energy and focus on quality of smaller firms for the false sense of security that comes from going big.read more
The Farmyard: Decision-making in Large Organizations

The Farmyard: Decision-making in Large Organizations

If you are like most institutions the pressure to capitulate to the requests of powerful factions within your organization is likely very real.read more
Nonprofit Marketing Return on Investment

Nonprofit Marketing Return on Investment

Return on investment in a brand initiative is very important. Measuring the results of any initiative and doing proper goal-setting for a project is an essential part of good governance, of good strategic behavior. But how do you measure the return when you are not really selling widgets?read more
"Meet Mary" Doing Its Job (Picturing Mary Outdoor)

"Meet Mary" Doing Its Job (Picturing Mary Outdoor)

The National Museum of Women in the Arts put street-level exhibition advertising signage on the building for the first time.read more
Zoo Brands, Conservation and the Future of Zoos

Zoo Brands, Conservation and the Future of Zoos

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

Branding and Sales: a Bank Brand Story

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

Lauren, Strategic Communications

Lauren Hunt is a strategic communications expert who specializes in distilling ideas into elegant and effective messages. She has been working with Tronvig Group as a writer and naming expert for a few years now.read more
Ari-Veikko, Consultant

Ari-Veikko, Consultant

Ari-Veikko Anttiroiko’s main research areas include local governance, local economic development, public sector innovations, and city branding.read more
2014 Nobel Peace Prize

2014 Nobel Peace Prize

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

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

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
Museum Camp: Can you take it with you?

Museum Camp: Can you take it with you?

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
The Conversation: Do we know how to have one?

The Conversation: Do we know how to have one?

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
Leila, Junior Research Analyst

Leila, Junior Research Analyst

Hailing from Newton, Massachusetts, Leila Vicinelli has joined us for the summer to help out on research. In her spare time, she is a rising senior at Dartmouth College and about to earn a degree in history.read more
Brand Power and Its Limits

Brand Power and Its Limits

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

"Competitors are stealing my ideas."

"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
Brand Strategy Basics

Brand Strategy Basics

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
Find the Pain: Business-to-Business Marketing

Find the Pain: Business-to-Business Marketing

Pain, fear, anxiety … these are strong emotions that drive behavior. This is true of life. Life is also, it turns out, the very stuff of marketing, even that most rarified and peculiar kind—business-to-business marketing.read more
The Difference Between Sales and Marketing

The Difference Between Sales and Marketing

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.read more
What is the brand of New York? (Historic House Museums)

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

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?

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

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
Madeline Gins (1941-2014), thank you.

Madeline Gins (1941-2014), thank you.

I loved Madeline Gins. I loved her as a friend and collaborator, as a sometimes co-conspirator. I loved her as my parent in New York. I loved her as the truly original spirit and intellectual light that she remained until early this morning.read more
Goals & Goats (How do you set strategic SMART goals?)

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

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
Poems by New Yorkers

Poems by New Yorkers

A stranger steps up to you on the subway and asks you to write a poem. You pause to consider the request. Then you let down your guard, detach from the rush, open your heart and oblige. In that moment you are being a true New Yorker—friendly, generous, creative, kind.read more
Legend of Novo and Other Dreams

Legend of Novo and Other Dreams

Everyone has dreams. What you may not realize is how your dreams may be hinged to the dreams of others.read more
Marketing and Desire: What can we learn from Buddhists?

Marketing and Desire: What can we learn from Buddhists?

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
Focus Group Testing Ban (and Some Better Alternatives)

Focus Group Testing Ban (and Some Better Alternatives)

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
Internet Bias and The Dream of the Fisherman's Wife

Internet Bias and The Dream of the Fisherman's Wife

The Internet is the great connector but only of what it has in it. So put yours in or be damned by it to silence. Only porn it seems had the power to penetrate the membrane that separates my pre-Internet writings from the entirety of human knowledge that we can access today at the stroke of a key.read more
When FedEx Slew the Giant: Sell Value Not Price

When FedEx Slew the Giant: Sell Value Not Price

When you think overnight courier, what comes to mind? I'm guessing FedEx is probably at the top of the list. This was not always the case. Let me take you back to the moment when a budding company called Federal Express slew the Goliath of its industry—Emery. Let's take a look at what happened and what you should learn from Emery's horrible death.read more
In praise of boredom

In praise of boredom

Nothing is not nothing, but something essential that we should be careful to preserve in our lives.read more
Electronics Cold Turkey (Vacation must now work harder.)

Electronics Cold Turkey (Vacation must now work harder.)

I took my family on vacation to a place with no electricity and no running water. We stayed there for ten days. It was electronics cold turkey, and at the end, the consensus among my three children—9, 12 and 15—was that we had stayed too long. I'm inclined to believe that the problem was that we did not stay long enough.read more
Making It Relevant: History Museums for Kids

Making It Relevant: History Museums for Kids

"As luck would have it, just at that moment Liberty—their canine sidekick—barks, jumps up from his bed and runs right into Uncle Pete’s time machine and ZAP! he disappears."read more
What is responsive design?

What is responsive design?

Responsive design has been around in various forms for a few years, but it is now coming into its own, and should be a serious consideration for any new website project.read more
Grant's Interest Rate Observer

Grant's Interest Rate Observer

Grant’s Interest Rate Observer, the financial publication best known for blending ancient and modern ideas, today unveils a thoroughly 21st century website designed by Tronvig Group.read more
Marketing is Not Optional

Marketing is Not Optional

"There are only two things in a business that make money – innovation and marketing, everything else is cost." —Peter Druckerread more
Local Brand Positioning: ICI French Country Kitchen

Local Brand Positioning: ICI French Country Kitchen

Tronvig Group developed the brand strategy, the new brand, as well as brand applications such as menus, signage, and a new website for this local Brooklyn farm-to-table restaurant and event space. ICI French Country Kitchen, Est. Brooklyn 2004 is located between the Ft. Greene and Clinton Hill neighborhoods in Brooklyn and is within walking distance from our new office.read more
Mixing Motivation: Danger of Extrinsic Motivation

Mixing Motivation: Danger of Extrinsic Motivation

"Virtually every type of expected tangible reward made contingent on task performance does, in fact, undermines 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.

Tell them the truth.

"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)

Consumer Insight: Singles (Family Life Cycle for Museums)

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
SEO and the Art of Internet Dating

SEO and the Art of Internet Dating

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.

We make mistakes.

"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
This piggy did no time sheet.

This piggy did no time sheet.

We are certainly not the first organization to struggle with getting everyone to fill in their time sheets. We've tried a variety of methods. We have made it really easy with software. We have tried asking nicely, telling regularly, assigning a person to go check and cajole each and every day. Through all this somehow consistent compliance has always eluded us. Enter the piggies.read more
The Ideal Client

The Ideal Client

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
The Journaling of Jane T. Heaton

The Journaling of Jane T. Heaton

Written with a pen from the funeral home where my dad was cremated just two months ago, these are my mom's last words. They are written in her journal.read more
New Tronvig Group Website

New Tronvig Group Website

Some of you may have noticed last week that our website was new, easy, simple, blue. Choosing NOT to continue under the persistent and powerful effects of "the cobbler's son has no shoes" syndrome, we forced the birth of a new Tronvig Group website.read more
NYU Center for Spiritual Life

NYU Center for Spiritual Life

New York University was calling. It turned out to be the newly minted Center For Spiritual Life. When I spoke to the co-director, a lively, amiable and eminently likable Ms. Shy, I asked what they needed done. She answered with the now dreaded assertion, “We want a new website.”read more
The Truth Will Set You Free: The Story of Tronvig Group

The Truth Will Set You Free: The Story of Tronvig Group

Our rise from the abyss has brought us to clarity of vision: "Finding creative ways to help our clients make the world better." We are no longer doing poorly trying to do well. We are instead fulfilling a destiny that has us—to use the Quaker words of Ben Franklin—"Doing well by doing good."read more
Customer Personas: What Sally Can Show You

Customer Personas: What Sally Can Show You

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

The Science and Art of Marketing

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
Stories About My Father

Stories About My Father

Here I write a short hero story. It may ring true for others who loved (and hated in short bursts) their fathers, who wanted to be like them and wanted not to be like them, who were proud and ashamed, who will dearly miss them when they are gone.read more
Your Name is Your Biggest Brand Asset

Your Name is Your Biggest Brand Asset

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 something 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
How Not to Vacation

How Not to Vacation

Last year I wrote about taking a solid two-week vacation and described taking the family to our remote Canadian island with no electricity and no running water. That was a really good vacation. This year, I blew it.read more
Can You Hear Me? Consistency and a Hearable Message

Can You Hear Me? Consistency and a Hearable Message

I came upon the Jerry Seinfeld "Don't break the chain." reference twice in two days this week. If you have not heard it, it's a recollection from Brad Isaac of some useful and practical advice he was given by a then up-and-coming Jerry Seinfeld.read more
I want a new website.

I want a new website.

"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
Reversible Destiny Website

Reversible Destiny Website

The new Reversible Destiny Foundation website is a metaphorical extension of their persistent and active interference with death and the death-dealing habits that populate a normal life. She aims no lower than to free you physically and mentally from the confines of assumption about your body, your perception of the world, and—very literally—to free you from death.read more
Marketing Mindset: Not to Market is a Crime

Marketing Mindset: Not to Market is a Crime

If your mission, your reason for being in the world—regardless of weather you are a nonprofit, 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

Optimism Bias in Marketing

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

Google Makes You Stupid

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

Museum Marketing: Think Like a Consumer

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.

Call me trim tab.

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
Dutch New-York: Educational Game for Kids

Dutch New-York: Educational Game for Kids

The Dutch New-York educational game for kids was created by Tronvig Group for the DiMenna Children's History Museum as part of a suite of educational games.read more
SEO for the Rest of Us

SEO for the Rest of Us

The basic principals of SEO are not hard: be honest, explain your content, link things up. Use the page title, description, and tags to genuinely help people find and understand the content of the page. Don't put tags on the page for things that are not directly relevant to the content. Don't title the page something it is not.read more
Museum Marketing for Non-Marketers

Museum Marketing for Non-Marketers

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
The Difference Between Marketing and Branding

The Difference Between Marketing and Branding

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
Thanksgiving in One Word

Thanksgiving in One Word

Yesterday we had Thanksgiving dinner at our neighbors house. The kids—who have all known each other since birth—piled up their plates with whatever they wanted most (including Brussels sprouts), and our host asked each of us to express in a single word what we were thankful for. Answers: "Food," "Friends," "Family," "Death"...read more
Sloppy Copy

Sloppy Copy

Tronvig Group has launched the DiMenna Children's History Museum website as part of the New-York Historical Society website. Featured on this new website is a kids section that showcases the first of three kid-friendly educational games: Sloppy Copy.read more
Bill Shannon Biographical Dictionary of New York Sports

Bill Shannon Biographical Dictionary of New York Sports

I am not a traditional sports fan. I follow no particular professional sport. I have attended few professional sports events in my life. And yet, I do in fact love sports, all kinds of sports. Perhaps this is why the Bill Shannon Biographical Dictionary of New York Sports that we created for the New-York Historical Society has become so dear to me in the short time we have been working on it. It is not an homage to any one sport, but rather to the idea of sport, and the role that sport plays in the lives of great and interesting people.read more
Madeline Schwartzman's See Yourself Sensing Website

Madeline Schwartzman's See Yourself Sensing Website

Rarely do you get handed a project with some of the coolest, strangest images and ideas on the planet as your visual assets. This was the case for the book website for Madeline Schwartzman's See Yourself Sensing.read more
Visual Multitasking

Visual Multitasking

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 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
What a Website Wants

What a Website Wants

During the first 15 to 30 seconds after I arrive on a website, I need to know that I have arrived at the right place.read more
The Two-Week Vacation

The Two-Week Vacation

In my working career, I have taken many types of vacations. They have ranged in duration from a rather luxurious 6 weeks to nothing at all, and experience has shown that a contiguous period of at least two weeks is the most valuable.read more
Apparent Failure Focuses the Mind

Apparent Failure Focuses the Mind

Probably the two most valuable things that have happened to me as a business person were: 1) Being laid off from a corporate job and having to start a business on my own, forcing the question of how to survive and support a family without a regular salary, benefits, or anything to rely on but myself. 2) My former business partner's choice to walk off with all our clients, leaving me with the company debt and virtually no business.read more
Radiation, Disaster and Hubris

Radiation, Disaster and Hubris

What impresses me most about nuclear materials is the inhuman scale of their behavior. For example, what does it mean that some radioactive materials, like Plutonium 244, have a half life of 80 million years? This "half-life" is 8,000 times longer than all of recorded human history. This has to make you wonder, at least a little, if we are out of our league when we mess with this kind of stuff.read more
The many forms of intelligence: Is Snooki the smartest guy in the room?

The many forms of intelligence: Is Snooki the smartest guy in the room?

"Reason should investigate its own parameters before declaring its omniscience." (Immanuel Kant) When I was in junior high school, I remember being both arrogant and stupid. I say this because I remember thinking I was the smartest kid in the class. I thought this because I got the best grades and I spent time thinking about things that did not seem to interest others. Only later did I learn there are many forms of intelligence.read more
Nonprofit Brand Basics

Nonprofit Brand Basics

For any organization, arguably your most important brand asset is your name. Some names are better than others at explaining why you exist and why you matter. So, along with the name, most organizations also need a tagline. The tagline can serve various roles. For a nonprofit its most important role is clarification. Some nonprofits have very practical taglines that do a good job of explaining why someone should support them. Others have taken on a very catchy marketing style and are often lofty sounding but vague. Sometimes these work. More often they do not.read more
The $5,000 Website

The $5,000 Website

There is no such thing as a branded $5,000 website. There certainly exist many people who will design and build a business or even a nonprofit website for $5,000 or even less for that matter, but in doing this, they are inevitably leaving aside much of the essential stuff that makes a website effective.read more
Brand as Defense Against Attack

Brand as Defense Against Attack

Branding is often managed like a propaganda war for the hearts and minds of brand consumers. This aligns with Wikipedia's basic description of propaganda: "As opposed to impartially providing information, propaganda, in its most basic sense, presents information primarily to influence an audience." Propaganda is not really about the truth, but about influencing minds, and so may resort to a variety of tactics such as errors of omission, selective truths and the straw man fallacy to make its case. Interestingly, if you look at the history of advertising and propaganda, they both came of age as vehicles of mass persuasion during and after World War I and they continue to rely on the same essential insights about human behavior. Advertising is white propaganda.read more
Design and Price Point

Design and Price Point

We recently had a small web project for a client that sells a very expensive service. Over many years they had built up a successful business, and they had done this without ever having had a website. They came to us somewhat reluctantly pushed into the wading pool, as it were, by their sales manager, who felt insufficiently supported by the brand. He needed online credentialing and support for his sale activities.read more
Chinese Mothers

Chinese Mothers

A friend of mine sent me the Wall Street Journal article "Why Chinese Mothers Are Superior" a few weeks ago. It was sent to me, I assume, because I have a Chinese mother in my own house—the mother of my children. The article excerpts and promotes the book Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother by Professor Amy Chua, and it was actually sent to me by a few different friends.read more
Addressing Objections: Web Conversion

Addressing Objections: Web Conversion

Objections are always there. Dealing with them is basic to the sales process.read more
Translation for Websites

Translation for Websites

In my halcyon days as a translator of Japanese, I once read that "even good translations are like tapestries viewed from the back." I thought this apt because it was damn hard to do a good translation, and even the good ones were really reconstitutions of the same content in a new skin. There was nothing really direct about them.read more
Architects and Flash

Architects and Flash

Architects fell in love with Flash. I think it gave them the kind of absolute design control that they generally expect from the world. The problem, of course, is that the Internet no longer loves Flash, and it seems architects are slowly coming to terms.read more
Brand Truth

Brand Truth

Our statement about brand truth—”We prefer truth. It gets you farther faster and holds tremendous power.“—was recently criticized on Twitter for being “grand and presumptuous.” My first reaction to this criticism was humor: “We just like it better than the alternative, and it’s a lot easier to keep track …”read more
The Business of Demand Creation

The Business of Demand Creation

I was asked to explain what I mean when I say, as I often do, "We are not in the business of demand creation." I usually go on to say, "We leave that job up to the big agencies" who seem on occasion to quite successfully create demand for products regardless of their actual quality.read more
Serendipity’s Value in Business

Serendipity’s Value in Business

In my experience, making good use of serendipity is a combination of things: actively setting up opportunities, a willingness to go with the flow of events, the ability to see the thing that arises by chance, and finally, being prepared to seize the opportunity—prepared both in the sense of being open to the possibility and ready to take advantage of it.read more
Invisible Consequences: How Branding Impacts B2B Sales

Invisible Consequences: How Branding Impacts B2B Sales

How do you get new clients? If you sell B2B, the short answer is probably “relationships.” Almost.read more
Open Source Evolution

Open Source Evolution

We all now take advantage of open source software. For our work in web development, it helps make many formerly complex and expensive tasks faster, easier, and less expensive. We tend to take this for granted, but the meaning of the open source systems that have germinated and are now prospering on the web is still evolving. We do not know how far these systems can take us. What are their limits? What can be done with them once harnessed in new ways for good?read more
MDLF First 15 Years: Underwriting Democracy Through the Fourth Estate

MDLF First 15 Years: Underwriting Democracy Through the Fourth Estate

The Media Development Loan Fund, or MDLF, is a pioneering international non-profit organization formed in 1995 by Sasa Vucinic and the late Stuart Auerbach with seed money from George Soros' Open Society Institute. The idea behind MDLF was to create a loan fund for the free press in fledgling democracies. Now celebrating 15 years and nearly 100 million dollars in loans, 200 projects in 24 countries around the globe, MDLF wanted to create a book to commemorate its achievements.read more
Arakawa + Madeline Gins

Arakawa + Madeline Gins

Arakawa Shusaku — July 6, 1936 - May 19, 2010. It was 1991, and I was fresh from Japan, adrift in New York, and uncertain of my destiny. It was Madeline and Arakawa who found me (especially Madeline). They took me in, fed and nourished me with scraps of wisdom—and curry—from the kingdom of intellectual freedom in which they habitually dwelt. They surrounded themselves with young minds. They fed us daily from a seemingly endless supply of insight and compassion...and stories. They respected our thoughts and gave them room to grow.read more
Why Documentary Style Photography?

Why Documentary Style Photography?

People and relationships are critical in business to business transactions, and so a strong B2B brand should communicate a sense of personal connection. It should speak to who the key players are and what it will be like to work with them. Great people photography facilitates this tremendously.read more
Brand Impact on CSI (Center for Social Inclusion) Reports

Brand Impact on CSI (Center for Social Inclusion) Reports

It has been about a year since we finished re-branding the Center for Social Inclusion (CSI). What is the brand impact of this work?read more
Life and Pecans: Why Truth Matters

Life and Pecans: Why Truth Matters

Last weekend I was reading the Sunday Times and snacking. I was looking at the paper and not my food, which was pecans from a glass jar. As I arrived at the bottom of the jar, I looked down and noticed little cobwebs all around the edges of the glass. Most of the remaining pecans had clearly been munched on already, and not by me.read more
The Way We Were: New York

The Way We Were: New York

I came to New York in 1991, arriving with a only one suitcase and a vague plan for an extended visit. After my many years in Japan, New York was a bit of a culture shock.read more
You’ve got 30 seconds.

You’ve got 30 seconds.

"If your single most persuasive idea takes more than one sentence to explain, it probably isn't single. Or persuasive." —Lee Clow's Beard from Twitter, January 14th 2010. This is a bit of an exaggeration, but I make a habit of telling my clients that they only have thirty seconds to convey their keynote brand message. And we work very hard to achieve this so that the website (and most of the time we are having this discussion in the context of a website) communicates its essential truths immediately and with word and visual expression.read more
Real Estate Retouching

Real Estate Retouching

Most of the original photography work that we do involves photo retouching of some kind. In real estate marketing, it is important to accurately preview the experience of actually seeing the property that is being sold.read more
Pantone

Pantone

These ads were done back in 2000 for Pantone as they were first expanding into fashion and home.read more