Leverage your brand-logo mark, 7 ways to make it stick.

Screen Shot 2014 01 15 at 8.03.52 AM 300x198 Leverage your brand logo mark, 7 ways to make it stick.
The past few weeks you have likely seen the CEO of Target trying to manage the aftermath of the massive credit card hacking scandal. Not a fun situation for any brand leader. One recent interview on CNBC caught my eye.  While Gregg Steinhafel was assuring customers that the company was taking the right steps to deal with  the mess, a beautiful logo-patterned, red Target vase was perched on the stage behind him.

Was his intention to communicate, yes this is bad, but you can still expect  great design and a style edge that the big blue retailer just can’t do?

Using logo marks well in non traditional touch points is a great opportunity for any brand.

I read an interesting story in the Wall Street Journal about the return of wearing branded apparel. The story was titled, “The Return of the Fashion Logo”. Full story click here.

The article reports how many big, luxury-fashion houses are using their brand-logo mark in garment and accessory designs again because consumers’ appetites for sporting brand marks are back in style.

In the early days of the 2000s, the plastering of brands was everywhere, inducing a logo-type mania. Today’s trend is not quite as prominent and is portrayed in a more understated way. This more discreet application of the logo mark still allows consumers to broadcast their financial success all the while making a fashion statement too.

That’s great if you are a fashion brand. But, what about if you are a business to business brand or a service brand?

I have always believed that brands with a clean, simple logo mark have a marketing advantage because those marks have a powerful visual asset that can be applied to some interesting touch points and woven into branded experiences.

When I say clean and simple, I’m generally not referring to your full logo with text. I mean just the mark; like Target’s bull’s-eye or Nike’s swoosh. If you do use text, don’t overdo it because the idea will quickly move from a nice, cool touch to a cheesy, hard-sell tactic.

How can you brand leverage your brand mark?

This depends on what you sell. If it’s an object, think about how you can add your mark to the design. Like in the Wall Street Journal article, luxury brands use their mark as hardware, decorations and apparel trim.

If you don’t sell an object, consider adding your mark into some touch points like:

1) Flysheet
Whether you are printing a bound, coffee-table book to give clients, or a brochure, consider using the logo mark on a flysheet.

2) Wallpaper
Why not add a touch of your brand to a room or space? But don’t go overboard; sometimes just doing an accent wall is the best look. Here is a custom wallpaper resource.
This company can take any file and create a range of design applications from wall borders to wall decals to full blown wallpaper.
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3) Computer wallpaper or screen savers
Adding computer wallpaper is simple. Create a pattern of your logo mark and save it to a jpeg file and make it your computer background or screen saver. Want something a bit more dynamic? Hire a programmer to create a moving screen saver design incorporating your logo mark.

4) Wrapping paper
Don’t just give your clients a gift; give it to them wrapped in branded gift wrap paper. You can make your branded wrap on your desktop printer or have a custom wrapping paper company create it for you.
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Here are two custom wrapping paper resources: Giftskin, Zazzle.

5) Pillows
Add a nice touch to your lobby and place branded pillows on the furniture. Check out these pillow resourcers Personalization Mall and Zazzle.
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6) Stickers and seals
Stickers and seals can be used in many cool ways; from sealing an envelope, to packaging a proposal, or adding it to a book you give a client.

7) A pattern in your ads
If you have created an online or offline ad campaign, consider using your logo mark as part of your design. Every since I can remember Target has been doing amazing job of using this method by having the Target bull’s-eye appear in many of their campaigns, furthering their brand equity and their distinction.
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Using a simple logo mark as a pattern in something, or as a stand-alone element, can be an effective way to keep your brand top of mind.

Brand on!

Must-have creativity books to increase performance, productivity and profits

Creativitycrayons 300x227 Must have creativity books to increase performance, productivity and profits

Creativity is the fuel for all progress in life and business. And the good news, CREATIVITY is within everyone’s reach. While some people are born with a stronger creative twist to their thinking, creativity is a skill that can be learned.

Developing a deeper creative mind is one of my favorite passions in life. I’m always looking for new resources and thought leaders that can help me produce more creative juice so I can enjoy my journey and achieve my goals.

Here are three books on the subject of creative thinking and enhancement methods that have helped me be more creative thus adding more value to what I offer the world, my clients, followers and friends.

If you are looking to boost your creative power, I highly-recommend you check these out.

Steal Like an Artist, 10 things nobody told you about being creative by Austin Keleon.
 Must have creativity books to increase performance, productivity and profits Must have creativity books to increase performance, productivity and profits

You can read this book in an hour. It’s quick, fun, entertaining and very inspirational. The author, Austin Kleon, shares a snarky, yet practical approach to improving your creative output. He cites many creative masterminds and exposes simple, immediate actions to open the flood gates of ideas from your mind. The book is small in size and good to carry on the go for when your brain gets stuck. Austin is also from Austin, TX, the land of many brilliant ideas.

Imagine, How creativity works by Jonah Lehrer
 Must have creativity books to increase performance, productivity and profits

Jonah Lehrer is a modern day rock star/scientist when it comes to writing and thinking about creativity. He is a regular contributor to the Wall Street Journal, The New York Times and many other international pubs, which is how I discovered this profound and interesting thought leader. Lehrer contends that creativity is not limited to the chosen few, but is waiting for those who embrace the rut, think like children and love to daydream and grab it. He also unveils why traditional thinking about creativity, criticism, collaboration and brainstorming need to be trashed. Backed by science and presented in an easy to consume style, Lehrer’s book is a critical read for anyone in business.

Thinkertoys, the handbook for creativity by Michael Michalko
 Must have creativity books to increase performance, productivity and profits Must have creativity books to increase performance, productivity and profits

This book is my bible when it comes to creativity. I discovered Michalko’s work over ten years ago and it is my number one resource for exercises and tips to keep my brain creating at peak state. Need to light up your team, solve a big challenge or just better understand how the mind works? This is an amazing book. I especially like the way it is organized. All chapters are summarized by a blueprint and big takeaways, so you can quickly access methods and apply them to your situation.

Need more? You may also want to check out my A to Z Creativity eBook. It’s packed with 26 daily actions that I live by.

“Creativity is contagious. Pass it on!” Albert Einstein.

Borrowed time – Don’t steal from yourself

When I was in Newport, RI last week visiting the Tennis Hall of Fame, I had the pleasure of meeting a new friend named Lauren. Lauren coaches tennis and helped me decide on a couple of new tennis outfits.  She also mentioned she was coming to Tampa next week and asked me if I’d be up for a match of tennis. Absolutely!

photo laurenkp 300x300 Borrowed time   Dont steal from yourself

So we played Thursday and had a blast. We played 11 games before our court time expired. I was down 5,6. Lauren brought Linda, a friend of her mom’s, with her too. After tennis we watched the beautiful sunset in Tampa Bay and all had a drink at Jackson’s, a local restaurant.

I asked Lauren where her mom was? She explained her mom, her grandmother and 111 people were killed in the United Flight #232 plane crash 23 years ago. I had never met anyone who lost friends or family in a commercial plane crash, so I was curious and inquired more. Lauren, where were you? She replied, “I was there too. I was one of the survivors. I was thrown from the plane and ended up in a corn field”.

Lauren was 6 at the time. After being in a coma for nearly a month she was given a second chance to live. Wow, I thought, she was so lucky; dodged the death bullet and I was so fortunate to have crossed paths with her. Today Lauren is a 29 year old beautiful person with a bright future.

Throughout life you meet people in very random ways and they imprint something on your soul. My time with Lauren was really special, even though she was about to kick my butt in the tennis match, her glow and spirit for life was contagious. This won’t be the last time I see Lauren.

I’ve been thinking about Lauren’s brush with death and how we all never know when our number is up and when our journey on earth will end.

Most of us will only get one chance. The dress rehearsals are over. Don’t take things for granted, not even tomorrow.

So if you’ve been parked in some ho-hum job, dreaming about your next career, maybe as a happy entrepreneur or doing something you are truly passionate about. Or maybe it’s not a career thing at all, but you are miserable in a bad relationship that is holding you hostage to a less than fulfilling life—what are you waiting for? The horn from the big bus around the corner, before it runs you over?

Why not live like today is your last one. Make your move!

Don’t forget to check out Signs of the times – 5 tips to make them meaningful.

Self-esteem, 3 tips to make yours rock solid

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Confidence is a condition you manifest when you do things with competence. Self-esteem is a belief level you buy into about yourself, when you’re not doing anything at all. To enjoy a great life and a rich business or career, they are both needed to be mastered.

I consider myself an emotionally healthy person. I also know that I can always improve myself. I’m interested in learning things that can make me more effective with my business, my personal relationships and things that provide me with a more fulfilled life.

Back in January Alan Weiss, a coach and mentor of mine for the past decade, offered a one-day workshop on self-esteem. Alan is known as the million dollar consultant. He’s authored over 40 books, works all over the world and has guided me on many business projects. His Self-Esteem Workshop was $2,500 and limited to 6 people in every workshop, it was sold out until April.

There’s no debate here, lower than peak self-esteem is bad for business. If you are a start-up, it can make the difference in you raising needed funds. If you are a growing business it can cost you new clients. If you are employed it can stump your advancement. In all cases, low self-esteem enables price, valuation, compensation discounting and costly over-giving of goods and services too.

I attended Alan’s workshop this past week in Warwick, RI to help take my business to a higher level. It was an excellent investment in time and money.

Consistent with Alan’s tough-love style of coaching, the workshop wasn’t hoo-rah-rah at all. There was no flood of compliments or achievement praised. There were a lot of open and candid discussions about where human doubt and questionable self-worth comes from and how to dump the debris that brings down anyone’s esteem level.

Before the workshop, I knew the root of many of my green monster issues, but after spending the day with Alan and a great group of other highly-accomplished consultants, I better understood how to re-frame the past, dump the garage and power forward with a stronger direction and intent. I also learned a lot about how to sustain high self-worth in the most challenging of situations.

The three biggest take-a-ways for me were:
1) The perfect self-esteem cocktail is 1-part listen to others (that you request, unsolicited feedback is useless) and 3-parts listen to yourself.
This means accept feedback from qualified givers, not others who have some axe to grind or bigger issues than yourself.

2) Having an accurate feedback grading system is key.
Many of the most damaging and negative beliefs that imprint adult self-doubt comes from our parents because as children, they were our primary authoritative figures. This dominating influence can apply to professional settings too. This does not make either of them right. Use realistic measures to evaluate criticism.

3) Positive reinforcing environments and relationships are critical, not optional.
Birds of a feather flock together. A scrappy nest is not where you want to be. Hang with other highly-esteemed people and make sure your work space is empowering and inspirational. If it’s not, change it.

Alan Weiss is not for everyone. He’s not inexpensive, his content is not sappy and sugar-coated. If you are serious about taking your business to the next level, I’d look at some of his offerings. If nothing else, sign up for his weekly newsletter, it’s free and one of the best things I read and enjoy every week.

In closing, here’s another good article on the subject on of self-worth. It’s written by one of my favorite tweeters @yourpocketguru, follow him and me @brandingdiva on Twitter for some short gems of insight on a all kinds of topics.

The magic of momentum – 6 ways to create yours.

tenniswin 200x300 The magic of momentum   6 ways to create yours.

When momentum showed up-I won!

The past few months I’ve really amped up my commitment to my tennis game. I play 4 or 5 times a week, take lessons and participate in cardio drills.

The results have been GREAT. I’ve lost 5 pounds and buffed up quite a bit. And I’ve had a surprising number of wins when I was really behind. I’m talking down by two sets, against a 26 year old or in a deep hole with scores like 5,0 and 5,1 and I’ve come back.

I’ve been thinking about this phenomenon, how it happens and how it applies to life and business too.

For me it’s about a few big emotions: frustration, annoyance, disappointment and how to manage them.

I know feeling frustrated is a big fat waste of energy. It keeps you in a spin, not moving anywhere. While I work on eliminating this emotion from my life, I’d be lying if I said I never feel it. I do, and many times it’s on the court, especially when I keep on losing the same points in the same way.

Lesson here. Do things differently. If you do things the way you’ve been doing them, you will likely get the same results.

Annoyance is another evil emotion. In my view it’s a weakness and it translates into letting the other person get to me over and over again. I often feel defeated even before the game is over. I get very annoyed when my opponent in tennis does something pesty, like continuous short drop shots, and return shots with an extreme spin that makes the ball go in totally weird places after it bounces.

Lesson here. Instead of using your energy to beat up yourself more, re-frame the emotion from annoyance to excitement, replace those annoying things your opponent is doing with actions to stop them and deliberate moves that activate excitement.

Some contend that disappointment is a legitimate feeling especially when expectations are set. I’m often torn with this concept, because I try very hard to practice an “in the moment” way of living. But I’m also very goal-focused and I believe one must have standards set to bench-mark stuff and know when to activate the delete button; when things just don’t meet your needs.

Lesson here. I acknowledge the state of disappointment like I do failure. Both are temporary events. Feel them in proportion to the big scheme of things, not for one second more.

Such as: minor disappointments like losing a non professional tennis match, or when some random person not even in your close world is being rude or mean or like when you buy a piece of fruit and it ends up bad and tart when you were craving a sweet plum. For me, I ask myself, does it really matter? Then I shake it off right away or in a few minutes.

Or a bigger disappointment like when a professional setback occurs that impacts many things, or a person I value who is not acting the way I want them to or when I make a bad investment that shows up as a big number on my balance sheet. For me- I try to find some good in the bad event, then I shake it off in a few hours or at the most a few days.

Hanging on to disappointments is no better than torching all your clothes, your car and yourself. Not only will it prevent future joy, it produces other negative effects like toxic pollution which touches others too.

The real key to this story is not the emotion, but the turning point. This is the point when the discomfort from frustration, annoyance and disappointment become unbearable. It’s the point that one must choose to change things because they’ve had enough. And when they are done right, theses changes result in a magical force called momentum.

Momentum is how I came back to win those games. Momentum can change your game too, in sports, business and in life. Whether you are vacillating in a bad relationship, in a stagnate career or struggling  to hit a home run with start-up.

Momentum has the power of a big wind storm. Momentum can set you free and produce many amazing rewards.

Finding your momentum is about choice.
You’ve got to want it.
And then you’ve got to create it.

Here’s how it happens – How to create your momentum.
Tony Robbins first taught me these ways to make momentum when I attended his “Unleash the Power within Workshop” a few years ago. Since then I practice it often and added some steps to make the process work for me. And it has. When I make momentum big stuff happens, stuff that seemed impossible manifests.

1) Get in a peak state. It creates momentum.
This means get your head, your heart and the physiology body in extreme focused, high-performance state. It helps me to remember another event when I was in a peak state. Like for me in tennis, I imagine a past comeback victory. I visualize that place and how it made me feel higher than high, an adrenaline rush, total bliss!! I go there again. Or in business, I remember a big new business score, a standing ovation or a time a client raved about my work.

2) Find your passion. It creates momentum.
This means reminding yourself of your values. What do you love? I love to compete!! What do you really want? For me, in tennis, it’s adding another win to my scorecard.

3) Decide, commit and resolve. It creates momentum.
This means no waffling, no tentativeness and no doubts. When I’m on the court I recite positive mantras too, OK some are sprinkled with a little snarkiness too.

Go after everything.
Nadal, Federer, Post
Ms. Opponent, you think you like steak, try chewing on this tennis ball.
Finish the shot.
Yes, I can!!!

4) Take urgent, immediate, consistent and massive action. It creates momentum.
It means as Nike says: Just do it!! And I say: Do it now!!
A sense of urgency has to kick in. A “take no prisoners” mindset has to be center stage.

5) Be flexible and honest with yourself.
Ask yourself: Are the changes working? Do I need to modify some more? Maybe take on a new action?

6) Celebrate.
Feel the emotion of your achievement, the big and small ones count. Remind yourself who led the movement, YOU! And remind yourself of the formula that was needed, so you can do it again.

In closing, the super cool thing about momentum is it’s a very present, powerful force, like a huge gust of wind. Your competitors will fear it, your team and peers will embrace it and it can serve as fuel in your tank for the next battle, on the courts, in the boardroom or in a life environment.

Go make some momentum!!

52 lessons, observations and declarations

Screen Shot 2012 02 12 at 1.07.55 PM 297x300 52 lessons, observations and declarations






Lincoln images


This past week one of my favorite guys and myself celebrated a birthday. I’m happy to report that I’m the younger one. In fact, Abe Lincoln is 203.

For those of you who know me well know I’m not a holiday girl. Don’t get me wrong, I love to celebrate, I just believe that everyday you are above ground is a celebration and special, instead of making a big deal about the traditional Hallmark days.

As I added another year to my timeline this week, I reflected on some of the most meaningful threads that make up my fabric. I put together 52, and yes there is a reason for that number, I hope you enjoy.

These are not in order of priority.

1.) I used to think the number one factor in success was cash flow, this is a myth, it is self-confidence.

2.) Guilt, regret and worry are by far the most unproductive mind trips.

3.) More self-responsibility by everyone will improve the world. The government, your boss, your partner, your job, your clients and the next moron you encounter at the gas station can suck and impact a nice day. OK, what part of that situation can you control?

4.) Life is short. Live like it was your last day.

5.) I have over 10-deceased friend’s contact info in my iphone.

6.) Nobody or no thing can really make you happy.

7.) Peoples’ behavior, cash flow and things can definitely alter your mood.

8.) I can’t tolerate whiners, racists or people who don’t wear deodorant.

9.) Patience is not one of my virtues.

10.) Listening to music, playing tennis and winning are three of my top favorite past times.

11.) My all time favorite book is “ The Pocket Pema Chodrom”. 2nd favorite Brand Turnaround and a close tie StraightForward: Ways to live and lead.

12.) Hair color is by far one of the most important inventions in history.

13.) Unless you buy lottery tickets and win, delegation is a critical skill for success.

14.) If you give crappy instructions, you will get disappointing results.

15.) Awards are exciting, but the journey is where the riches are.

16.) Friends and relationships should add to your life. If they don’t, they are useless weights that should be dismissed.

17.) Design is really important. The elements of beauty, emotion and ease of experience make life better.

18.) If you don’t have a strong sense of humor, you won’t be strong in personal relationships.

19.) Spelling is important to many people. I’m not one of them.

20.) I wish dogs and other animals could talk.

21.) I wish some people would talk less.

22.) I hate mushrooms, phone trees (when you call for help hit #1 for this, hit #2 for that) and bureaucrats.

23.) Three of the biggest fashion crimes: men wearing too much jewelry, women wearing panty hose with sandals and long fingernails on both.

24.) There are way too many unproductive meetings held everyday.

25.) Thoughtful agendas and a meeting marshall can fix this.

26.) “Play up” in everything you do. This means hang with people and companies that are more accomplished than you and play sports with athletes who are better than you.

27.) Invest in you. Attend workshops, hire expert coaches and treat yourself often.

28.) Don’t always believe your mind. Sometimes it thinks up really stupid and damaging thoughts.

29.) Do follow your gut. It knows a lot more than you might expect.

30.) Appearance matters. Youthfulness, fitness, grooming, your teeth and wardrobe make a difference in business.

31.) Exercise is the best medication going. It sharpens your brain, provides more mental bandwidth and wards off evil stress.

32.) Self-promotion is not a bad thing. Anyone who tries to convince you otherwise is likely not too successful.

33.) The art of leverage is among the most important skills a successful person should master.

34.) No risk. No reward. Period.

35.) Bad fruit never gets better. You can fire clients, friends, spouses and brands. If they do not add to your happiness, get rid of them. NOW!

36.) Casting blame is often an action of a loser. Even train wrecks require willful passengers to pick the car, track and place it’s headed.

37.) Optimism is a virtue. I am an eternal optimist.

38.) The only person you can control or change is yourself.

39.) Don’t trust too soon. Don’t trust everybody and don’t harbor the past. But do file away any deceptive players in your experience cabinet.

40.) Market research has its place. However, it is not a crystal ball. Just ask Coke-Cola.

41.) You don’t have to like everyone. But you do need to respect everyone and their unique beliefs.

42.) When drinking wine or other adult libations cell phones, ipads and computers should not be present. In other words, communicating while under the influence of mind altering substances can come with risks.

43.) The past only matters if you choose to live there.

44.) Pole-vaulting to conclusions and writing the future can cause physical and mental anguish. Let life happen. Live in the present.

45.) Failure is the fastest way to success. And Failure is a temporary event.

46.) It’s never too late to start something, change something or be a better person.

47.) I like and enjoy breaking rules and I get annoyed by people who can’t go there.

48.) Often, I love acting my shoe size instead of my age. Playfulness, being spontaneous, independent and free to choose everything are a few of my driving values.

49.) I still don’t understand why our creators created cellulite, any moles or facial hair on women.

50.) My single greatest achievement: being a happy entrepreneur and controlling my destiny.

51.) You do not need to master everything. But what you do love doing—make it a masterpiece.

52.) Be the joy you want to experience everyday and life will never disappoint you.

Book review – Army of Entrepreneurs by Jennifer Prosek

image home 198x300 Book review   Army of Entrepreneurs by Jennifer ProsekJennifer Prosek, author of Army of Entrepreneurs, is the founder and CEO of CJP Communications where she leads many of the firm’s key accounts. Her offices are located in New York, Connecticut and London and with over 70 working professionals, the firm ranks among the top 35 independent public relations firms in the US.

You could definitely say that she knows how to run a business or, should I say, how to gather an army of entrepreneurs. Want to know the secret? It’s the ability to develop, motivate and deploy employees to be more entrepreneurial within their own positions. This strategy is the basis of her first book, Army of Entrepreneurs: Create an Engaged and Empowered Workforce for Exceptional Business Growth.

Prosek shares what she knows, how she runs her firm and focuses on teaching readers how to insure that every employee becomes a powerful force for growth within an organization. Prosek believes that if every employee is empowered to use all of his or her resources to help the company succeed, they will develop what she calls an “owner’s mindset”. Her game plan for building a workforce committed to creating new business, forming breakthrough products and services, and supporting growth has earned the organization “Small Agency of the Year” and was recognized as one of the “Top Places to Work in PR”!

Jennifer Prosek uses both theory and practical advice into an overall organizational approach and taps into the hidden entrepreneurial drive among employees and because of this, I highly recommend the innovative and organizational changing book Army of Entrepreneurs: Create an Engaged and Empowered Workforce for Exceptional Business Growth by Jennifer Prosek, to anyone serious about jolting awake their company through empowering their employees.

Key takeaways:

  1. To have a successful company, one must develop and motivate employees to be in charge of their own actions.
  2. Breakthrough products and services come from those who are empowered by their resources.
  3. When employees are passionate about their careers, goals, dreams and ideas, everyone in the company wins.


About the author: Lauren Angrick is Chief Problem Solver for Karen Post’s companies, Brain Tattoo Branding, Brain Tattoo Publishing and The Branding Diva® speaking programs. When not online, marketing and social media brand building she enjoys being in social gatherings and anything to do with the outdoors. Angrick is a University of Tampa graduate and serves is a member of the Board of Counselors.

Paparazzi, plantains and petrol.

Part 2 of a 3 part series on visiting Nigeria.
Andrew, part my bodyguard, part my cinematographer and part photographer and I flew Delta Airlines. Fortunately we got to fly business class and it was a great experience. In fact, the Delta service team was one of the best ever on the way to Nigeria. On the way back was another story, which I promise I will write about in the next few weeks.  The food was excellent too. It was just a little weird dining at midnight, right before you popped an Ambient sleeping pill.

delta Paparazzi, plantains and petrol.

Delta to Nigeria

Our plane arrived 11 hours later about 3 PM Nigerian time. We were greeted by our government assigned, armored, traveling security team with big AK47’s. From there we plowed through at least a million cars and saw miles of poverty en route to our hotel on the island of Victoria. This is a sad sight considering the amount of oil money that comes from this country. It does seem like there should be a better outcome.

city from car Paparazzi, plantains and petrol.

City scape in Lagos

The ride was intense and not without fear. The driver had two speeds: super fast and stop. I honestly thought this was one of my last trips on earth.

carride Paparazzi, plantains and petrol.

Scary car ride on way to hotel

One hour later, we arrived at the Ecko Hotel. The hotel was comparable to a lower end 3-star US hotel. Contemporary, it had some cool African art in the lobby, and was gated with several towers. Andrew and I were split up. In hindsight, I should have demanded this be corrected. Fortunately, our four days were safe and without incident.

art hotel Paparazzi, plantains and petrol.

African art in Lagos

The service was very good. The wine was divine. The food OK and interesting. Lots of plantains, which I like. But everything had an odd fishy flavor to it that I’m still trying to identify. I believe it’s the cooking oil. I’ve noticed this in other countries I’ve visited too.

Our rooms were comfortable, once you got past the constant horn blowing outside, the fact the internet moved like a drunk snail and the power completely turned off about every couple hours without notice. Apparently, this has to do with a power supply issue. We did get used to that, but it totally sucked when Andrew’s only power cable blew up from a surge. $200 later, a scarier cab ride, a tire blow out and some serious sweat, he was back in business.

During our stay, as long as we remained inside our compound, we felt safe, just on alert, as there were always several armed guards outside our windows at all times.  There was also a high degree of missing trust and crime related issues that were apparent. Below is the sign that greeted us upon check in? This is a shame because the country is filled with many more honest and trusting people, than the minority of bad folks who have tarnished the country’s image.

money laundering Paparazzi, plantains and petrol.
The first day there was a press conference at 10AM promoting the event. We were driven over and greeted by a roomful of 25 plus curious journalist, Internet, print and broadcast. Everyone was unbelievably friendly and warm. This calm tone changed dramatically at the event. The media at the event was like no paparazzi I’ve ever imagined, swarming like bees, hungry for up close photos of the Governor and the branding speaker, “moi” from the US. There were a couple times that I had big fears, not for my life or safety, but that my hair piece (curls) were definitely going to fly off.

Both days, everyone wanted to know how branding could help their country, leadership and ultimately the people the government served. I covered the highlights at the press conference and encouraged everyone to attend the event later that night.

Screen shot 2011 03 21 at 5.11.26 PM Paparazzi, plantains and petrol.

I will cover this topic of government branding and post my presentation in my next blog post.

Until then, here are a few more lessons from African trip. Missed my first one?
1) Always pack two power cables for your computer if your work depends on power.
1.5) Pack legal pads, so when you don’t have Internet service, you can still write.
2) Save your earplugs from the flight, so the cab horns don’t keep you up all night.
3) When visiting another country and doing an event with 500 people, pack a box of business cards 500+.
4) Pack at least a dozen energy bars, in case you are not loving the food.
5) Pack super light, international airport travel will not be so stressful.
6) Don’t wear anything scented – hair product, lotion, nothing. Mosquitoes love the stuff. You don’t want them sucking your blood and giving you a serious disease.

 Paparazzi, plantains and petrol.

Can a strong brand make a visit to the dentist less painful?

Screen shot 2011 02 20 at 11.37.17 PM Can a strong brand make a visit to the dentist less painful?

You bet my pearly veneers it can.

I’ve never been a big fan of going to the dentist. Maybe it’s because my parents were such sticklers and sent us so often as kids. And as an adult I’m very grateful for that, my teeth are in good shape.

Or maybe it’s because I still remember exactly what it felt like the day the orthodontist yanked my braces off. I thought all my teeth were coming off too.

Or maybe it’s because my last dentist always acted like a Nazi commando and if I didn’t follow everyone of her every recommendations, she would send me a threatening letter stating that my failing to spend $3,000 on something she believed was needed could cause brain damage and other deathly ailments. Beyond the scare tactics, she and her staff hard pushed products and services like used car salesman. And when I don’t floss, they don’t pour the guilt trip on me, like “Karen, you know this is a team thing, I’m doing my part, you’ve got to do yours.” I don’t remember signing up for the dental team. Bad experience. Bad memories. Bad brand. I don’t go there any more.

My new dentist Dr. Gregory Jacobs is not a pain at all and neither is the experience. In fact, I enjoy going there. They have current magazines that I enjoy, nothing against Golf Pro. The environment is relaxed. There is no tacky, bold faced policy signage posted everywhere. No glass wall implying I’m am disturbing them. The office looks like an interior design studio, not a stinky medical clinic for lab rats. The restrooms are equally as cool and the staff is always nice.

I feel a whole lot less pain, stress and anxiety when I go to the dentist these days. And always tell my friends about my great dentist. All the touch points are thoughtfully provided (music, scent, decor, staff, lighting, restrooms, parking) and geared to my comfort, not the efficiency of the practice.

I always wonder why 95% of health care providers don’t get this powerful connection to the customer experience and their bottom line. And this concept is not restricted to only health care providers, anything that is not organically enjoyable and tilts toward painful, like: buying tires, repairing your AC unit or purchasing insurance can benefit from a really pleasant and memorable experience.

Is there anything you can do to improve the experience you deliver to your customers? Remember, the brand is what the customer thinks, feels and expects about the sum of all you do.

OK, I do schedule my dental appointments right after lunch and usually have a glass wine with my salad too.

For more on strong brand concepts, view: Want to be a standout brand? Avoid these 5 costly mistakes.

 Can a strong brand make a visit to the dentist less painful?

Hitting the streets in NYC, flavors, history and tired feet.

Screen shot 2010 12 20 at 6.54.43 PM1 Hitting the streets in NYC, flavors, history and tired feet.

It’s freezing in New York, but fun and stimulating!

First thing, check into my hotel. I am staying at a small boutique property on upper West Side (I’ll share the details on this property at the end of my trip). Are you traveling to a big city and want a great deal on cool hotels? I always use Hotwire.com. You can pick the number of stars and which part of the city you want to stay in. You get a choice of many, showing prices and star rankings. I’ve never been disappointed and sometimes save 50% off rack rate.

Worried about bedbugs? Go to Bedbug registry and make sure your chosen hotel won’t have uninvited guests in your bed. My hotel is awesome – it was not listed, WHEW!

Our first adventure: A food tour of the Lower East side via City Food Tours. This is a great way to taste and learn some history about New York’s fabulous food. Most tours are a couple hours long and range from 40-90 bucks per person. They include a knowledgeable guide, outside exercise and samplings of 5-6 culinary bites along the way. We discovered: The Essex Food market, a gem, which houses Roni-Sue chocolates, an artisan spot with truffles and to die for chocolates in every variety. The Pickle Guys, one of the few pickle places around. Economy Candy, a massive store that feels like a mall of a million sweets. The Roasting Plant, a great coffee cafe founded by a former Starbucks  staffer who turned a vacuum into a Javabot® coffee roasting system and lastly, one of the best slices of pizza from San Marzano Brick Oven Pizzeria.

A great afternoon! More marketing commentary coming. Packed agenda.

Robert’s at the Museum of Design.

Prohibition a neighborhood spot for live music acts. Rachel Platton performed and was an amazing, fresh and entertaining sound. She’s a New Yorker who is hitting the world tour scene. Check out her schedule, and check her out.

Tues. night
Went to Jimmy Fallon Live with Jack Black, recap coming, was tooooo much fun and got to hang and dance with the Roots. I’m now the proud owner of an official drum stick too.

Got to run, sorry for the short hand, promise to fill in. Headed to Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown. Review coming too with lots more street stuff.

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