Why Karl Lagerfeld's new print ad/PSA rocks.


This is the kind of advertising that rocks my world. Why? Because it’s clever, funny, impossible to ignore, and memorable. Ergo: 100% effective. US agencies take note. This is how print advertising is done.

And...um... if you're still coming to this url, you still haven't made the switch to the new brandbuilder blog. Do it soon, before this blog becomes history.

(While you're on the new url, remember to update your RSS, blogroll and favorites/bookmarks.)







Photo by Matt A.

If brands start with people, great brands start with great people. Not great in the sense that they are wealthy or successful or influencial (yet), but great in the sense that ego, self-righteousness and self-serving agendas aren't part of the equation. Instead, these people are devoted to a cause. Infected with an idea. Motivated by success measured in other people's smiles and excitement and ownership of the things they do for them.

Read the rest here. (Yep, we've moved.)

While you're on the new site, go ahead and update your RSS, blogroll and favorites/bookmarks if you haven't done so already. :)



Insight and Action


Today's bit of Marketing, Customer Experience, Design & Product Development advice comes from the archives of Kathy Sierra's blog:

"Your job is to anticipate... To give them what they want and/or what they need just before they have to "ask" for it - to be surprising yet self-evident at the same time. If you are too far behind, or too far ahead of them, you create problems, but if you are right with them, leading them ever so slightly, the flow of events feels natural and exciting at the same time."

- Walter Murch

To read the rest of this post, go here.

(The BrandBuilder blog has moved. What are you still doing on the old site? Come on! Check out our new digs!!!)

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Stand Out


Word to the wise: If you don't stand out in some way, you're done.

You might be able to exist, you might manage to survive, but that's all you'll ever have to look forward to. You can be a one-man show and still be corporate. Don't do it. Don't waste your time being just like everyone else. Don't waste your soul on being average.

Give yourself more credit. Everyone has strengths. Everyone has talents and abilities. Not using them every day even in some small way is such a shame it ought to be a crime. (And it's bad business to boot.)

Whether you're a photography studio, a web design firm, a sports magazine, a sportswear company, a triathlon shop or an antique furniture store, you either stand out, or someone who does will come along to wow your audience and steal your business right from under your nose.

Trust me on this: you can't afford to be average. Even if you've based your entire business model on the lowest pricepoints, on bare-bones bottom-line imports, you have to take your uniqueness as far as humanly possible... and then some.

Yes, even accounting and financial services firms can stand out. Restaurants. Retail outlets. Breweries. Day care centers. Schools. Law offices. Graphic design firms. Janitorial services agencies. Manufacturing plants. It doesn't matter. Your industry and specialty are irrelevant. Anyone can stand out.

Here's a tip for you: The best way to stand out... (For the rest, go here)

Sorry, the BrandBuilder blog is moving, and I want to make sure you get directed to the new site. :)

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The BrandBuilder is moving to Wordpress.


At long last, the BrandBuilder blog is moving from blogspot to Worpress. (Yay!)

What this means:

1. A slightly updated look.
2. Added functionality and features for you, my readers.
3. Clean RSS, at last.
4. Comments will work smoothly for everyone again.
5. Better integration with my complete web footprint (flickr, linkedIn, twitter, seesmic, buzznet, etc.)

The Transition Schedule:

Although some of the stylistic elements of the new Wordpress version of The BrandBuilder blog will get tweaked over the next few weeks, the site is up and running now, which means you can make the switch today. Go here to see the new site and update your blogroll, RSS, etc.

From now until at least the end of June, I will be posting to both this url and the new BrandBuilder blog in order to make sure the transition happens on your terms. The plan is to stop posting to this url on July 4th. On that date, I will post a change of address link on this version of the BrandBuilder and move on for good.

What you need to do:

For you guys, the transition will be very simple. You only have to do three simple things:

1. Make sure you update your RSS feed. The new BrandBuilder feed can be found at: http://thebrandbuilder.wordpress.com/feed/

2. Make sure you update your blogroll. (If the brandbuilder blog is in your blogroll, change the hyperlink to the new url: http://thebrandbuilder.wordpress.com/

3. Make sure you update your favorites/bookmarks with the new url.

That's it! Now you're good to go!

Thanks for reading, and see you on WordPress!

Let me know if you have any issues or problems: olivier@f360photo.com

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How Routine Kills Brands


"The arrogance of success is to think that what you did yesterday will be sufficient for tomorrow."

- William Pollard.

That's worth framing and hanging in every meeting room from Portland to Tahiti (via Paris).

Also, via Tom Asacker:

"Over time, unchanging relationships can turn into shackles that limit an organization's flexibility and lock it into active inertia. Established relationships with customers can prevent firms from responding effectively to changes in technology, regulations, or consumer preferences."
- Donald Sull (Revival of the Fittest: Why Good Companies Go Bad an How Great Managers Remake Them.)
Do you see where I'm going with this?

So... your new mission every day is to keep things fresh. That's it. Whether you're in the business of designing ads, repairing engines, selling shoes or answering calls from angry customers, don't ever, ever, ever let routine set in. Try different things. Learn something new from every customer. From every sale. From every design challenge. From every product launch. From every commercial you hear on the radio. From every movie you catch on cable. From the games your kids play. From magazines you've never picked up.

Keep things fresh.

And go read Tom Asacker's post on that very topic. It's very good.

Have a great Monday, everyone.

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“Getting a product known isn’t the answer. Getting it wanted is the answer. …be sure your advertising is saying something, something that will inform and serve the consumer, and be sure you’re saying it like it’s never been said before.”

- Bill Bernbach

Hello Monday!

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The Incredible Hulk kicks ass.


Is The Incredible better than Ironman? Yes and no. It depends. I enjoyed Ironman slightly more because it was original and cool, BUT the depth of the Incredible Hulk is on the level of King Kong - meaning that it has more genuine human emotion than any Marvel or DC superhero movie made to this day. I have to say that it was pretty damn refreshing and cool to sit there and watch a superhero movie with such great writing and acting. Liv Tyler's Dr. Ross is a hell of a lot more believable and likeable than Gwyneth Paltrow's act-by-the-numbers Pepper, Tim Roth rocks as the power-addicted and ass-kicking villain, and Ed Norton brings grown-up realism, a compelling level of vulnerability and addictive charisma to the character of David Banner.

Yeah, sure, the Hulk does look fake (better than the first one, but still very CG-looking). That being said, so did Spiderman. With that said the "I" in CGI is pretty tight, however. (The Hulk looks like a high res comic book character, but he interacts flawlessly with his environment, which works well overall.)

And this time around, the Hulk is CLEARLY catapulted into the role of hero, which wasn't entirely clear in Ang Lee's unfortunate attempt a few years ago. As a matter of fact, Marvel got it so right this time that I would recommend that both George Lucas and Steven Spielberg go see The Incredible Hulk to see how even a CGI creature can inject a movie with a) genuine emotion, and b) a sense of desperate panic when their loved ones find themselves in jeopardy. (A MAJOR plot element markedly absent from Indiana Jones 4, and Star Wars Episodes 1, 2 and 3.)

That's right, George: Ed Norton and his green CGI alter ego don't crack jokes when their love interest is about to die. They don't pout either. They freak the hell out and throw every bit of themselves into saving her. Learn this!!! This is how heroes act. You suck for not knowing this by now.

Is the Incredible Hulk "great?" I wouldn't go that far. But if you liked Spidey 1 and 2 and Ironman, you will like this movie as well. A lot. Just ignore the first Hulk movie and start over with this completely reloaded "sequel."

And if you're a true geek, you'll love the Tony Stark (Ironman/Avengers) cameo at the end.

Marvel Brand: 2. Lucas Films: 0.

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Slippery Slope


image by ilisu

Something Seth wrote quite a while back that still resonates with me today:

"As soon as they start using the tactics of the other guys, playing the game they play, they become them. As soon as they decide that they can buy (not earn) attention, it all changes."

Chances are that you've forgotten what made your company or services or products so different. So unique. So good.

Chances are that your success has driven you away from those early days, when being different from everyone else, when being better was what it was all about.

Back when taking care of every new customer was like going out on a first date.

Chances are that you're more focused on aligning your pricing to that of your competitors now than you ever were.

Chances are that you've started to copy their every move. You advertise where they advertise. You offer the same services they offer. The closer you get to beating them, the more like them you become.

Chances are that you are slowly becoming a clone of the very people you once thought sucked.

"As soon as they start using the tactics of the other guys, playing the game they play, they become them. As soon as they decide that they can buy (not earn) attention, it all changes."


Take a breather.

Go back to the start.

Are your products still the best? Are they still unique? Is your company still unique? Are you who you promised yourself you would be when you started?

Are you still earning attention?

If the answer is yes, congrats. You're one of the rare few. I hope you manage to keep it up for decades to come.

If not... well, maybe it's time to get back to basics. What do you say?

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You never know when you're going to need a good mug shot for your PR guy to leak to the press. I mean... seriously. Are you going to leave the photography to some angry night shift booking flunkie? Do you really want that mug shot to show up in the tabloids? Heck no. Look at these motley fools:

This is what happens when you go out on the town without a "Plan B" (especially if you're planning on spending half the night doing speed balls in the back of Pedro's van in West Hollywood).

Look. You've worked hard on building your personal brand. You can't let one photo ruin it for you, right? Even if you get into a bit of trouble with Johnny Law, eventually, people will forget what you were arrested for... but thanks to Google Images and the AP, photos are forever. That could be bad if you don't have a plan.

Real professionals are always prepared. This is why I recommend having a professional mug shot ready to be fired off to every media outlet known to man, just in case. That bit of advice isn't just aimed at ex-movie stars, out-of-work TV actors and celebutantes. I'm talking to all of you in in blogtwown and twitterville.

A few tips:

1. Go with black and white. It looks better, it looks timeless, and if it worked for Jim Morrison and Jimmy Hendricks, it'll work for you too.
2. Look confused but not dazed. You'll inspire sympathy instead of contempt.
3. Wear a nice shirt. Do not wear a blanket, ratty T-shirt or other homeless/crack addict garb.
4. The hair should be unruly and as big as possible, but it shouldn't look like you just spent a week living in a van (Paris) or were fished out of a Mexican toilet (Nick).
5. Chin scruff should be a day old. No mas, no menos.
6. Use your eyebrow superpowers.
7. Do. Not. Smile. (James.)
8. Don't pretend you're getting your passport photo taken (Michael.)
9. .jpg and .gif files work best.
10. Make sure your PR guy or assistant is someone you can REALLY trust.

Filed under "personal branding."



Heads-up! Fathers' Day is this Sunday.



Metallica is writing the book on how to sink an A-list brand (namely their own).

Step 1: Lose your relevance sometime in the mid 90's and see sales dwindle over the next decade. Blame music downloads and the MP3 format for your market downturn - instead of accepting that you've lost touch with the times.

Step 2: Instead of adapting to a changing market and embracing new distribution channels (which worked well for thousands of bands, including the Greatful Dead) hire lawyers to try and fight the entire world. Hope that you can sue the world into not changing.

Step 3: When things don't go your way, bitch and moan until you've repositioned yourself as the brand that constantly bitches and moans instead of making music... and has nothing to show for it.

Step 4: Make a point to put personal gain ahead of your fans, and scream it off every media rooftop. For years on end. Until even your peers think you're out-of-touch morons. "We need to make more money!!! We're rock stars!!! You people are stealing our product every time you listen to it!!! We will sue you for listening to our songs!!!!"

Step 5: Spend more time in court than in the studio or on tour.

Step 6: Run out of money and decide it's time to get back to being a band since the fighting the world deposition at a time gig isn't working out so well. Only it's too late to get back to your roots because you stopped being artists and musicians long ago, and you suck now. You're just too stupid to see it yet.

Step 7: This whole media2.0 thing sounds fly, so you invite bloggers to come listen to some of your studio sessions in the hopes that they will share their amazement at your crazy-cool talent. Surely, this will revive your career. Only you're too old, the gig is up, and the bloggers aren't going to lie about it.

Step 8: When your bonehead plan backfires and the bloggers' reviews turn out to be pretty negative, threaten to sue them.
Step 9: Realize that what you need is good old PR and advertising. Upon getting a few quotes, start looking for promising lawsuits to file in order to finance your comeback.

Read the story here. It's pretty funny... yet sad.

What a bunch of idiots. Just make music for the sake of making music, you morons!!!

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Your chance to control the Federal budget


Guy Kawasaki points us to this very cool little site where you can control where your tax money goes. Well... kinduv.

Connection to the branding discussion: At least four degrees of separation, but whatever. It's still an interesting and fun little tool.

Update: I just spent fifteen minutes playing with the tool, and managed to push the budget bust back to 2070+ while cleaning up the environment, increasing access to medical care for the poor, children and young adults, and freeing the US from foreign energy.

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Investing in great products vs. investing in Advertising


Time for your weekly brandbuilder reality check.
There are only two types of businesses: The ones you know are the best in their category, and... everyone else.
Advertising and marketing are nice, but too many "also in" businesses waste money on marketing and advertising when they should instead revamp one or two elements of their business that would help them actually gain market share. (The most pleasant and efficient customer service experience in your industry, a perfectly designed user interface, a 100% uptime guarantee, stunning design, impeccable ergonomics, remarkable flavor, etc.)

Advertising is basically a load of bullshit unless you have something worth advertising to begin with. (Otherwise, what are you advertising: Hey, come buy from us! We're the thirteenth best shoe store in the 90210!) You're either the best at something, or you're just another voice in the crowd getting fleeced by just another run-of-the-mill ad agency or "marketing firm."

Before you start wasting money on advertising, ask yourself what your super-special value to your users/customers/clients truly is. Maybe you have the best prices. Maybe you have the most comfortable meeting rooms. Maybe you have the most square footage of any gym in your area, or the freshest produce, or the most knowledgeable staff, or the fastest check-out. It doesn't matter what that something is as long as it is something concrete (as opposed to another lame marketing spinfest).

Whatever your value differentiator is, whatever your brand's value advantage is (or should be), this is what you need to invest in FIRST. Once you have that aspect of your business nailed down, THEN and only then should you even bother with advertising.

A few days ago, Seth Godin posted some great advice to college grads on his blog: Only borrow money to pay for things that increase in value. A pair of shoes or cool clothes never increase in value. An education or professional experience, however do. Great advice, especially in the crux of our current economic/credit crunch. The same applies to businesses, which is why Seth's advice is so damn relevant to the discussion today.

Perhaps more relevant to today's topic is a slightly tweaked version of Seth's advice: "only invest in things that increase in value."

Like shoes and clothes, advertising never increases in value. With advertising, you are at best buying a small percentage of the public's attention across a very narrow sliver of space and time (and paying a premium price for it.) Before you know it, your advertising budget is gone, and so is that very expensive bubble of attention.

Investing in better products/services, better people and better processes, however, makes a whole lot more sense as these things never lose value. Great employees, great products, great customer experiences and fostering a unique relationship with your fan base are the types of things worth investing in. These are the true foundations of a great brand. These are the types of things that will help strengthen your brand equity.

Advertising never translates into brand equity unless these foundations exist to support it. Even so, the more solid the brand's foundation, the less relevant advertising becomes.

Starbucks doesn't advertise and I'm not sure I've ever seen a Whole Foods ad anywhere, yet millions of people drop solid stacks of greenbacks there every year. I don't shop at Target, wear Rudy Project sunglasses, drive a VW or crave a BMW because of advertising. Other than creating awareness for a product that hasn't managed to capture anyone's attention yet (red flag), advertising does nothing to impact most companies' growth.

Building a strong reputation by developing great products, buzz-worthy experiences and generally delighting customers/users is a much stronger strategy than paying loads of cash for advertising.

Have a great Wednesday, everyone. ;)

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The manliest dog in the world


If you follow the assumption that men with um... "manliness" issues tend to overcompensate by buying enormous SUVs or powerful sports cars and adopting dangerous, aggressive dogs like Pit bulls, then I must be pretty damn comfortable about my own macho meter.

Meet Chiquita - Chico's little sister. (Chico is the brandbuilder mascot, in case you were wondering) She only weighs .9 lbs right now.

All I need now is one of these, and I think we can safely brand me the manliest hombre in Twitterville. Booyah!

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I love this question on the Biztrek blog:

Stop for a moment to consider what would happen if your business no longer existed. How would your customers react. Would you really be missed? Could they easily get what they need from somewhere else? Would they be equally well off?
Assuming you aren't Apple, Starbucks, Microsoft or Disney, how do you answer that question?

If you're Exxon, your customers will go fuel up with BP or Shell.
If you're Calvin Klein, your customers will buy Kenneth Cole or Ralph Lauren or DKNY instead.
If you're Publix, your customers will cross the street to get their groceries from Bloom or BiLo or Ingles.
If you're Best Buy, Circuit City will handle the overflow.
If you're McDonald's, Burger King and Wendy's will be happy to take over your share.
If you're Joe Shmolinski, perhaps Jim Smith or Lucy Kilgore or Mack Jackson can do your job just as well.

So what about you? What's your unique value proposition? What makes you indispensable to your customers/users/employers/market?

It isn't a rhetorical question. Get out a piece of paper and actually write it down. You need to know what the answer is (1) and you need to be able to verbalize it to others (2) when they need to know what makes you or your product or your company worth their time and greenbacks.

Follow-up reading over at Client-Magnet.

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My favorite Twitter posts today:




Steve Jobs: Two quick observations


Two things:

1. Is it me, or does Steve Jobs look ill? I don't remember ever seeing him look so skinny. He's skin and bones. What gives?

2. I don't know if Steve Jobs even uses Powerpoint*, but whatever. He knows how to convey his message in one slide without getting into a buttload of tables and graphs and bullets. Look how simple his slide is. I love that.

* Thanks to cdmwebs, I now know that Apple's answer to Powerpoint is called Keynote. How did I not know that? Um... I'm a Microsoft guy. Give me a break already. See? I learned something on Twitter today.

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The 20-year epiphany plan


Music to my ears from Brand Autopsy:

Advertising Age recommends NOT ADVERTISING

Yep, you read that header right — Advertising Age recommends NOT ADVERTISING. A recent editorial in Ad Age shared HMOs (hot marketing opinions) about JetBlue’s current advertising campaign. The gist is this …

“JetBlue is missing the point with its recent ad push. What it needs is to get back to what made it a media and consumer darling: customer service and good internal and external communication.”

“… convincing more people to fly doesn't seem like a smart move for an airline that has trouble handling the passengers it already has. It won't fool new passengers, and it will only upset current passengers. JetBlue achieved its success by being unlike the other airlines. Its good name spread -- via word-of-mouth and smart marketing -- because great customer service gave it a compelling story to tell.”

“Priority No. 1 should be getting back to a place where consumers want to share good stories. Take the money being wasted on that campaign and plow it into customer service.”

Let’s take this a step further. BEFORE any company spends gobs of money on an advertising campaign, it should first spend money on improving the performance of a product/service and on ratcheting up the customer experience. ‘Nuff said! Errrahh!

Maybe it's time for me to stop blogging about this stuff. If even Advertising Age is starting to preach the very thing that this blog has been devoted to for the last 3+ years, I'm thinking maybe my job here is almost done? Maybe?

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To the lady who almost killed me today...


You were driving a white Chevy sedan. I'm not sure what model, but I know it was a Chevy because the logo came pretty damn close to leaving a permanent imprint in my left calf muscle when you almost mowed me down in downtown Greenville this afternoon (see scenario #1 above) at Pendleton & Washington.

Here are a few driving tips for you:

1. Get your eyes checked. If you are required to wear prescription glasses while driving, WEAR them!
2. When making a left turn at an intersection with no "left turn" arrow, YIELD to oncoming traffic! That means cars, motorcycles, moped, and yes, bicycles. It's Saturday afternoon, you're old, and you have no reason to be in a hurry. OBEY THE LAW and wait until oncoming traffic has passed before making a left turn. Why do I have to tell you this?
3. Just because the car in front of you decided to try and turn before I was completely through the intersection doesn't mean you should follow its stupid ass. I can avoid getting hit by one dumbass motorist, but usually not two in a row.
4. I average 25mph when riding downtown. Trust me, you don't have time to turn when I am already engaged through an intersection. Don't I look fast with my racing getup? Come on. You know I do.
5. The part about yielding to oncoming traffic: LEARN IT.
6. When you see that I am two feet in front of you and you are about to hit me with your car, apply the breaks. Slow down or stop. Shit. Whatever. Do SOMETHING to try and avoid killing me. Please.
7. Making horrified faces at me as you're about to hit me doesn't help unless you put your fucking foot on the brake pedal and push down.
8. The accelerator pedal is not the brake pedal. Please consult your car's user manual for details.
9. Just because I have a) mad skills, b) nine lives, c) cycling superpowers, and d) half a dozen guardian angels looking over me at all times doesn't mean you shouldn't at least TRY to not kill me with your car. Believe it or not, I am not looking for an extra survival challenge when I clip-in on the weekends.
10. After coming microns from hitting and killing me, don't just drive off as if nothing happened. You almost just caused a major traffic accident that could have resulted in vehicular homicide. At least stop to apologize or see if I'm okay. Hell, you scared the living bejeesus out of a bunch of people in the car behind you who witnessed the whole scene and thought I was toast. (They really were in total freaking horrified shock. Hands over their faces, eyes like saucers and mouths open so wide you could fit a grapefruit in there.) I swear they were seconds from throwing up all over their dashboard. You should at least have stopped to apologize to them.

This woman, I swear to god, didn't just almost T-bone me at an intersection where I had the right of way, but even upon seeing me in front of her grill didn't attempt to slow down, swerve or stop. Hell, she continued to accelerate through her turn even as she had eyes on me. I can't believe I got through without getting hit. I really can't. A Hollywood stuntman couldn't ave come closer to that fender without being taken out. The worst part about it is that if she had hit me, I doubt that she would have stopped. So if the impact didn't injure me too terribly bad, getting dragged under her car for a few miles probably would have mangled me into a steaming pile of red brandbuilder goo.

I'll say it again: She never slowed down. She never stopped.

I should have chased her down and smashed her driver-side window in a fit of rage, but... she didn't do it on purpose, so no. I wasn't all that angry, really. I got through, yelled at her as she drove away, shook my head at her senile ass - politely nodded and smiled at the people in the car behind her (I should have stopped to give them a hug or something). I lived to ride another day, and she'll eventually just go on to drive her car into a house or something.

Here is a pretty scary (but eye-opening) article on elderly drivers and their chronic inability to handle left-hand turns at intersections.

Also: Great website from the city of Toronto about how to avoid hitting cyclists. (It isn't rocket science, but hey, not everyone behind the wheel is driving with a full set of brain cells, evidently.)

This has nothing to do with branding (again) but whatever. It's the weekend. Nobody reads this blog on the weekend. ;D

Update: 8 June 2008. Almost the exact same thing happened to me again today on Augusta Rd. at the Faris Rd intersection. This old lady driving a navy sedan tried to make a left hand turn at the intersection while I was riding through it. She saw me and slammed on her brakes, which is better than yesterday's episode. But going through this Still though. I wear loud cycling clothes. I ride in broad daylight. What's the problem here? Twice in two days? What the hell?! Old people need to stop trying to make left-hand turns at intersections that don't have left-turn traffic signals to help them get through.

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Ask any Army infantryman, Marine or even Naval aviator what they think of the Air Force, and they're likely to scoff at the question. Some will be polite and try to spin something nice. Most will just tell you what they really think - which isn't great.

And honestly, when this is the kind of decorum the Air Force breeds into its officers as they graduate from its "prestigious" academy, perhaps we can infer that its leadership issues start early.

Without getting too political here, it doesn't help that the Commander-in-Chief doesn't seem to know how to behave in public either. Especially while the US is at war.

as US servicemen and women are dying in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Especially as the Air Force is days away from firing its two most senior officers in a very public and embarrassing series of unacceptable scandals.

This is clearly not the kind of image the Air Force needs to be perpetuating right now.

I won't dwell on the President's bizarre behavior... but I can't help but wonder about the kind of young officer who would find it acceptable to chest bump the Prez.

Seriously. Where are we? In a frat house? Earth to the bonehead in uniform acting like a complete jackass: You are bumping chest with the commander-in-chief. Get a friggin' clue.

Why have uniforms at all if you're going to act like a dumb college kid at the first opportunity to goof off? Why salute at all? Why have any sense of rules and procedures when you're in the Air Force? After all, this is the era of "whatever," right? None of that old, stiff military crap matters anymore, right? The uniform is just for show these days anyway, right? Something cool to wear to score girls on Friday nights?

Think again (from the Guardian):

The US air force's two most senior officers were sacked yesterday after repeated blunders in nuclear weapons handling, including the mistaken shipment of detonators to Taiwan and the bungled transport of six deadly cruise missiles by unsuspecting pilots.

The air force chief of staff, General Michael Moseley, and civilian secretary Michael Wynne were asked to resign by senior Pentagon officials in advance of a report that is expected to pass embarrassing judgment on the nuclear errors.

The resignations had been expected amid simmering tension between the defence secretary, Robert Gates, and air force leaders. Gates has blasted the air force as not fully committed to the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan, urging it to send more of the unmanned planes known as Predators into the war.

"Because people were stuck in old ways of doing business, it's been like pulling teeth," Gates said in a speech this spring to the air force academy.

Yet the deciding factor in the military shakeup appears to be two nuclear slip-ups by the air force, which Moseley and Wynne have led since 2005. The air force admitted in March to sending Taiwan nuclear fuses that it believed were helicopter batteries, a gaffe that one senior defence official called "disconcerting".

A bigger mistake came 10 months ago, when six nuclear missiles were flown from North Dakota to Louisiana without any of the air force officials on board knowing about their hazardous cargo. The incident was deemed so serious that President George Bush was immediately notified. The air force unit that flew the six missiles failed a safety inspection only last month, according to the Washington Post.

Moseley was also reprimanded by Pentagon auditors in April for pushing ethical boundaries in his friendship with two private contractors who won a $50m (£26m) contract in 2005 to produce flight shows for the air force.

The Pentagon inspector general found in April that the contract to promote the Thunderbirds aerial stunt team was tainted by improper influence and preferential treatment. No criminal conduct was found.

Moseley was not singled out for blame, but the investigation laid out a trail of communications from him and other air force leaders that eventually influenced the awarding of the contract. Included in that were friendly emails between Moseley and an executive in the company that won the bid.

"It is my sense that General Moseley's command authority has been compromised," Senator Claire McCaskill, a Missouri Democrat on the Senate armed services committee, said at the time.

Replacements for the two leaders were not immediately announced. Forcing out both the uniformed and civilian chiefs of a military service is a rare move, but Gates sacked the army secretary last year amid a scandal over the mistreatment of injured soldiers at the Walter Reed hospital in Washington.

Bush was aware of the resignations but "played no role" in the process, according to the White House spokeswoman Dana Perino.

Having been a military officer, I can tell you with absolute certainty that the type of behavior that led to the Air Force's troubling lack of professionalism over the last few years (and its dreadful reputation across the services) begins with the kind of senseless dumbassitudes displayed during this year's commencement ceremonies: You cannot divorce bad command decisions from bad decisions. The "what the hell" attitude that allows a graduating cadet/officer to treat the President of the United States like a frat buddy is the same kind of attitude that leads officers to lose six nuclear warheads for a few hours, or to think it's okay to sell out their office for financial gain.

Professionals take their jobs, responsibilities and behavior in public seriously. Unprofessional people don't. And in the case of a military organization, lack of professionalism kills.

The Air Force Academy would have done better to train its graduating class to salute the President and not get dragged into his bizarre behavior. I am quite sure that servicemen and women operating in war zones would have respected them a whole lot more for it.

Instead, these graduating men and women in blue only perpetuated the decades-old anti-Air Force sentiment that leads to the reactions I have been hearing all week: "Yeah, well... that's the Air Force for ya. What did you expect?"

I don't know what I expected. Maybe some common sense. Maybe some decorum. I guess I was thinking about the wrong branches of the military.

But then again, maybe Monday, I'll go bump bump chests with my CEO.



Lightning storm during volcanic erruption


The baddest photo EVER.

“As clouds of toxic ash and dust tower into the sky, they ionise the air, generating an explosive electrical storm. Colossal forks of lightning spark around the noxious plume as it spews from the volcano’s crater, creating an image of raw, terrifying energy - as if the air itself were ablaze.”


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The unexpected ecological impact of Second Life


Fascinating article by Rough Type's Nicholas Carr on the energy requirements of Second Life. (Okay, so it's 2 years old, but it seems more relevant today than it did then.)
"We're running at full power all the time, so we consume an enormous amount of electrical power in co-location facilities [where Second Life/Linden Labs houses their 4,000 server computers] ... We're running out of power for the square feet of rack space that we've got machines in. We can't for example use [blade] servers right now because they would simply require more electricity than you could get for the floor space they occupy."
- Philip Rosedale, Linden Labs

To put it all in perspective, Sun's Dave Douglas looked at kilowatt hours in terms of CO2 production to see what the actual ecological impact of an avatar is: Each Second Life avatar requires 1,752kwh/year, which is basically 1.17 tons of CO2.

How does that translate into plain American? Easy: 2,300 SUV miles (or 4,000 Prius miles) per year. For just one avatar.

Read the full article here.

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Dave Armano's stairway to Brand Heaven & Hell.


Simple, but still pretty kickass, as usual.

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Vision, Design and Integrity: Yves St. Laurent's legacy


When Yves St. Laurent died yesterday, we lost not only one of the world's greatest designers, but also one of the world's most visionary and honest business leaders.

His passion for his work, for his designs, and for the people for whom he created clothes and accessories won over greed and the mad thirst for double-digit growth that so many companies are plagued with today. When other couture houses tried to impress with gimmicks and flash, he stayed true to simple lines and understated elegance. While other couture houses obsessed about fashion, he simply focused on style.

Yves St. Laurent never sold out. You won't find the YSL logo on cheap sunglasses or bullshit leather iPod cases. Yves St. Laurent refused to let his house fall into the massclusivity trap.

Massclusivity (mass exclusivity) is what you get when a premium brand like Gucci or Louis Vuitton starts making cheap crap to cater to a younger, broader and usually less affluent audience. This can seriously lower the value and relevance of a brand, but it makes sense if you're looking to cash in on your brand's earning potential. Once you capture market share and get into the malls and less exclusive retail properties though, it's tough to get your cream-of-the-crop status back. That's difference between houses like Dior, Yves St. Laurent, Hermes and Cartier vs. Tommy Hilfiger, DKNY, Ralph Lauren and now Gucci.
A lesser designer would have plunged Dior into chaos back in the sixties, and the Yves St. Laurent brand would have never turned into the cornerstone of occidental style that it is today.

A lesser man would have turned Yves St. Laurent into a Dillard's or Macy's brand. He understood the value of a strong brand. He understood the value of absolute quality. He understood the value of staying true to his vision and ideals.

He was one of the greats.

Read about the man here.

Check out his work here.

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I know this has nothing to do with branding, but...


This is a cyclist's worst nightmare. The rogue drunk driver. The teenage girl texting from behind the wheel of her SUV. The angry guy behind the wheel of his pickup. The confused ninety-year-old.

The math is pretty simple: Bike and rider (180lbs) + Car and driver (1,000lbs) = roadkill. That tiny little foam helmet won't protect us against a 60mph impact with the grill of a Ford F150.

From CNN.com:

MONTERREY, Mexico (AP) -- A car plowed into a weekend bike race along a highway near the U.S.-Mexico border, killing one and injuring 10 others, police said.

The 28-year-old driver was apparently drunk and fell asleep when he crashed into the race, said police investigator Jose Alfredo Rodriguez.

A photograph taken by a city official showed bicyclists and equipment being hurled high into the air by the collision.

Rodriguez said Juan Campos was charged with killing Alejandro Alvarez, 37, of Monterrey.

Authorities said the wreck happened 15 minutes into the 34-kilometer (21 mile) race Sunday along a highway between Playa Bagdad and Matamoros, across from Brownsville, Texas.

Campos said he is an American citizen living in Brownsville. The U.S. Consulate could not immediately confirm that.

Please be courteous and careful out there. Cyclists don't mean to be slower than cars. They don't mean to be in the way either. We just don't have anywhere else to ride but in the same roads as cars. Nobody needs to get injured or killed just because you're in a hurry.

And please don't let anyone you know ever drive drunk. Or tired. Or angry.




Fear is probably the only thing really holding you back.


On Aug. 16, 1960, Col. Kittinger stepped from a balloon-supported gondola at the altitude of 102,800 feet. In freefall for 4.5 minutes at speeds up to 714 mph and temperatures as low as -94 degrees Fahrenheit, he opened his parachute at 18,000 feet. (U.S. Air Force photo).

What did you do today?

Or rather, what could you have done better today: Could you have fought a little harder for a budget? Could you have stood your ground about going with the best idea? Should you have turned away a HUGE client for all the right reasons? Did you hire the smaller agency rather than the big bloated one because you know it is a better fit?

Whatever your job is - entrepreneur, attorney, recruiter, CMO, creative director, account exec, product manager, copywriter, marketing VP, Business Development manager - let's face it: Nobody is asking you to fly up into a high altitude weather balloon, jump out at 100,000 feet with a diesel truck battery strapped to your ass and a parachute on your back, freefall for almost five minutes through an absolute hell of terror and space-like cold temperatures, open your parachute at exactly 18,000 feet, then land... wherever and wait for the helicopter to come get you.

All you're asked to do is sit at a desk, shake a few hands, come up with some great ideas, sell them to someone, and make them happen.

Tell me again what's so difficult and stressful about your job?

It's a brand new week. Make it count. ;)

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