Straight from our advertising brethren: 

“The biggest barrier to engagement (according to a recent Association of National Advertisers’ survey) is the start-up’s inability to accurately describe its offering meaningfully, relevantly.”

The study goes on to say that even more than the 1/3+ of marketers who now work with marketing technology newcos – in social media, analytics, content development et al. – would do so … if they could figure out what the start-up did.

Shades of messaging 101.

Too many businesses, from our perspective, think that a tagline, a slogan, an elevator pitch, and a brand will tell a slew of audiences what it is and what it does.  Fallacies lurk in those assumptions.  Just ask yourself these questions :

  • Is the ‘about us’ pitch broad enough, suitable enough to cover most (if not all) of the company’s products and services?
  • Are spokespeople comfortable in delivering their sound bytes?
  • How do managers and leaders tailor it for their needs – and does it still resonate with all stakeholders?
  • Finally, do leaders agree?

One of the hidden benefits of developing the right messages is driving home consensus.  In other words, executives not only agree with the best way to describe the company but they also connect with it, bond with it, and get downright comfortable in talking about it. 

Yes, it takes a while.  It’s messy.  And noisy.  But afterwards, no one will ever ask you what your company does for a living.


There’s something about “culture” that everyone wants to own today.

Gigantic corporations are tasking their leaders and managers to figure out how to create genuine, authentic, and entrepreneurial innards, environments that will attract millennials who prefer to work in fast and nimble start-ups.

Ad publications claim, though a handful of case histories, that marketers should own the culture fit bit and make sure that brands reflect company values.  And vice versa. 

Even recruiter Egon Zehnder adds its two cents by revealing its 100-person survey results:  Ninety-five percent believe perceived culture affects the brand.  Sixty percent say culture supports the brand – and   20 percent say it’s an underminer.  Ergo, CMOs need to embrace that word.

Yet culture needs to be owned by the right individual(s).

The creation of culture – and its values – clearly belongs in the province of the leader.  It’s s/he who reflects the organization, shapes (or re-creates) its values, and acts to show the way.  It’s not marketing speak.  Nor solely developed by the CHRO.  And, for sure, not locked up in a wordy company manual.

Culture needs to live, to breathe, and to, if needs be, adjust to current realities.  Companies do, during crises or turnovers, rethink values … and re-cast them, with smart planning, to inspire, motivate, and transition to the new way.  After all, if culture is the way we work around here, why shouldn’t (eventually) everyone own it?


In our rush to win the hearts and minds of different populations, we just might have forgotten something.

As cbyd readers, you know we’re nuts about visuals, and the impact images can have on our work in branding, marketing, change, communications.  The “one picture is worth” is integrated into our mantra; every time the change word appears, so does our ‘eye’ thinking.  Science backs us up.

Recently, the power of a different human sense – smell – is invading the media.  Since the mid-2000s, retailers, from the obvious food chains to apparel stores, have been actively engaged in developing and using specific, often branded aromas to lure customers into their outlets and, once there, lure them into purchases. 

Cinnabon, for one, claims success from its sniffs of cinnamon and brown sugar. 

Hugo Boss, at the high end, deliberately crafted a smell to accompany its brand. 

And Panera (no surprise!) is transforming its bakery shifts to day time, with ovens and bakers upfront to explain and sample wares.

All is truth:  Through some practicums and research, one enterprising environmental psychologist from Washington State University demonstrated the compellingness of vanilla (women) and rose maroc (men) in doubling sales in an apparel store. 

Then, our questions:  How do we use this oldest and most primal human sense to drive other behaviors in our audiences and stakeholders … other than sales, that is?  Is it through that oh-so-80s’ scratch and sniff technology?  And/or via a fragrance that triggers important memories, putting us in more receptive, more conducive to change moods?  Or through emotions driven by oPhone use (watch for it at the end of 2014)?

We’ll sniff out the answers, if you will.