The Best Places for You and Your Brand to Be Seen

Crossroads Foundation Photos

Originally posted on Forbes.com.

For all the massive growth in the power of digital and virtual, face time still matters. As hard as anyone works to rack up thousands of followers on Twitter, Instagram and even Snapchat, it’s all still no substitute for making sure you are physically in the right places to ensure a relevant personal brand.

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Health and Wellness Branding Digest, June 17, 2015


Health Care Transparency Should Be About Strategy, Not Marketing
(Harvard Business Review, 21.05.15)

Health care organizations need to re-think their concept of strategy to thrive in a marketplace driven by competition on value – how well they improve patient outcomes and reduce costs. That re-thinking begins with clarifying what the organizations are truly trying to accomplish, and for what “customers,” and how they are going to distinguish themselves from competitors and offer a unique value proposition.


How One of Healthcare’s Hottest Startups Avoided Being a Middling Wellness Company
(MedCity News, 20.05.15)

More healthcare startups need to talk about their pivots: the moments when the idea they first started with crumbles and – through sheer force of the marketplace – is changed to what business should have been all along.


Finding Humanity at the Intersection of Health and Technology
(MediaPost, 10.04.15)

Over the last few months, there’s been increasing excitement around the innovations in health tech. You know health tech is at critical mass when it hits center stage at SXSW, and the Apple ResearchKit introduction promises to bring together personal healthcare data from a huge proportion of the population. With all the hubbub around the latest innovations, it’s important to identify the human stories at the center of the technology, which supports why the technology isn’t only inevitable, but necessary.


Healthcare Professionals: Chaos Breeds Opportunity
(Medical Marketing & Media, 03.03.15)

Physicians are under the crunch, make no mistake. The modern-day rigors of running a practice, such as maintaining electronic health records (EHRs), complying with legislation, checking formularies and dealing with digital correspondence are increasingly eating into their time for seeing patients and keeping up to date with clinical science. The good news is that they could use some help. The even better news is that they are open to receiving help from pharma companies. Unfortunately, pharma’s offerings to date have been a little spotty. And so doctors remain overwhelmed, yet under¬served. And therein lies the opportunity.


“We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them.” —Albert Einstein


SXSW x Brazil

We just returned from taking teams from more than a dozen Brazilian creative agencies on a road show to introduce them to top American ad agencies and corporations in New York, Chicago and Austin. (Cannes Lions is the final stop, in June.) Hired to support four clients—ABEDESIGN, FilmBrazil, Instituto Alana and Softex—we not only set up meet-and-greets, but we also created four standing-room-only events at SXSW that focused on Brazil’s world-class creativity in advertising, design, film and television production, including “Films as a Strong Tool to Inspire and Provoke Social Change” and “The Borderless Digital World: Where Will Brazil Be?” (In fact, people are still trying to RSVP to one of them, a week later.) There were lots of cheek kisses exchanged after panels packed with our clients’ top choices attended, from Apple, Facebook, Google and Twitter to Leo Burnett, Ogilvy and many in between. It all came out of our huge success with FilmBrazil and Brasil Design’s VIP luncheon at Cannes last year, which got lots of people buzzing about Brazil. Goaaaal!

How Salt Lake City and Utah Became the New Gold Standard

Boston Public Library

[Originally posted on Forbes.com.]

Austin envy is alive and well, especially on the heels of another jam-packed SXSW, but suddenly Utah is looking like the new benchmark for business and quality of life. A rash of new studies and rankings is proving that the Beehive State, and especially Salt Lake City, is increasingly the place to be.

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Cause Branding Digest, March 17, 2015


CJRW@SXSWi: Biz Stone of Twitter on Creativity, Success
(Arkansas Business, 16.03.15)

“The future of marketing is philanthropy” —Stone believes that the day is coming when brands and businesses will grab attention and customers through giving back. Already a popular approach for brands trying to connect with Millennials and make noise in social media, “cause marketing” will become the norm, said Stone, with brands and nonprofits teaming for mutual benefit.


How Social Impact Strategies Just Might Save the World
(Entrepreneur, 10.03.15)

Last year was a busy one for anti-corporate protesters. Workers walked out of big box stores and fast-food chains over wage issues. Drivers demonstrated against Uber’s compensation packages and tipping policies. Google saw its Bay-area bus service disrupted by protesters who believed the search giant was contributing to income and housing inequality.


Adopting the Right CSR Approach for Your Business
(AllVoices, 24.02.15)

Consumers are increasingly looking to businesses to demonstrate that they are ethically sound. Corporate social responsibility, or CSR, is now a key factor in the purchasing decision making process of many people.


Brands from KFC to Gucci Are Jumping on the Cause Marketing Bandwagon
(Ad Age, 06.06.14)

Cause marketing is big. Brands as diverse as KFC and Gucci are jumping on the bandwagon. Clients are asking if they should, too.


“A business that makes nothing but money is a poor business.” —Henry Ford


Ideas Conferences as Brand Builders

[Originally posted on Forbes.com.]

We’re in an age of ideas conferences—not just such stalwarts as Davos and TED but also upstarts like All Things Digital’s D conferences (D11 is next, in May)—and attendance is increasingly seen as a mark of legitimacy. They’re the ultimate see-and-be-seen gatherings. Smart talk is today’s hot commodity, whether you’re speaking, listening or, perhaps most important, hobnobbing after the formal sessions.

“It’s easy to think that money is the currency of the world,” TED staffer Duncan Davidson told New York earlier this year, “but there are other currencies.” Davidson was being interviewed because three years earlier, a well-dressed mugger had tried to steal his all-access TED badge in Long Beach, Calif. That’s the significance these confabs have taken on.

But what do they say about your personal brand? Are Davos people different from TED people different from SXSW people? What about the Clinton Global Initiative (CGI) and Renaissance Weekend? Is there a big half-dozen in conference-going that lets you borrow for your brand (today’s equivalent of name-dropping) and build it up? And if there is, do you have to attend all of them (who has time?), or do you need to decide what each stands for and how it helps make a person a brand? Does your choice of conference send a message about what generation you see yourself in?

That same New York article includes a helpful history lesson:

“At least since the early seventies, when Davos was founded, there have been exclusive gatherings that mix fizzy ideas with major-league networking. The eighties gave rise to Renaissance Weekend, for a largely political crowd; Allen & Co.’s Sun Valley retreat, for media machers; and an early version of TED, for the titans of the converging worlds of (as the organizers had it) Technology, Entertainment and Design. But recent years have seen a furious proliferation of these status events. There’s PopTech, FOO Camp, the Clinton Global Initiative, Solve for X (Google’s conference for ‘moonshot thinking’). And beyond the higher-profile events, a lengthening tail of gatherings you’ve never heard of like the Feast, Do Lectures, the 99% Conference and Techonomy. All promise much the same thing: a velvet rope to keep out the attitudinally unwashed, serendipitous interaction, quirky content and at least the illusion of egalitarian elbow-rubbing.”

But I’d argue that some conferences are becoming so ubiquitous and trendy that their velvet ropes are being pulled back. TED has gotten so democratic—not just in making its 18-minute edited TEDTalks available online for all the world to see, but also in its increasingly frequent TEDx gatherings (270 events in 58 countries last month, according to the TEDx website)—that it’s more the brand of might-bes than überachievers.

Production company executive and Atlantic contributing editor for tech and media Michael Hirschorn coined the memorable term “clusterfuckoisie” to describe the tribes that pile on in hopes of proving or improving their social rank. A blogger at the Jane Dough asks if all the conferences have lost their mojo, simply because there are too many of them.

I don’t think they have, but it’s increasingly hard to know which conferences are really relevant to you. A forum on Quora about which conferences someone “needs to attend to meet world and industry leaders” has a few recurring answers—Davos, TED, CGI—but not much consensus overall.

And so, like Deadheads 40 years before them (but with espresso as their drug of choice), a new tribe has formed to follow the route from Sun Valley to Aspen to Austin to Switzerland. But following the knowledge takes its toll, and these conferences are eating alive the would-be thought leaders who join the circuit, traipsing around the world in search of ego food and new smarts, one quick bite at a time.

If they’re getting anything from this, it’s primarily that they’re strengthening their networks. Davos still seems to make careers—the others, mostly connections.

When you are managing your brand, it’s unbelievably important to remember that co-branding is vital: You are the company you keep, and that also means the conferences and events where you are seen and seeing. Unfortunately, in our reality-TV world, perception is reality and reality can be insanely demanding.

[photo: creativecommons.org/veni markovski]