Thursday, November 17, 2016

Six Branding Tips from the LA Auto Show

If you're a car fan and ever find yourself in the Southern California area during November, make a detour and head directly to the Los Angeles Convention Center to attend the LA Auto Show. Whatever make or model you think you'll like, you're sure to be surprised by the latest technological advances by your favorite brand's competitors. And just wait until you see the concept cars! I got a sneak peek at this year's show and immediately associated brand marketing with my observations. Check out these six branding tips that any brand can apply in any industry.

The hashtag for the event was featured on a large sign at the entrance (#LAAutoShow) - inviting attendees to use it and/or take a photo for easy sharing - and easy promotion.
BRAND TIP: In today's social era, choose your hashtags strategically and invite your audiences, customers, and stakeholders to embrace and use them.

Audi's full line-up of vehicles was presented mostly in red. In previous years, all Audi vehicles were silver.
BRAND TIP: Shake things up if you consistently use the same colors in your promotions. Use different color palettes for your brand storytelling.

Nissan launched its new Rogue One with storm troopers. Created in partnership with George Lucas' next Star Wars movie (a Nissan rep said that there are 131 million Star Wars fans in the USA), 5,000 limited edition vehicles will be available. Each buyer will also get a replica storm trooper helmet, a perk that will not be sold separately.
BRAND TIP: If your brand can tie itself to a pop culture phenomenon, do it!


Hyundai launched a new sub-brand named Genesis. Three sedans were featured, and by 2020, the Genesis line will include six vehicles including two SUV's.
BRAND TIP: Sub-brands or brand extensions allow your brand to reach out to new audiences.

Volvo offered access to its online newsroom via a business card with a QR code. While many influencers in social media have long said that QR codes are dead, this one, when scanned, linked to a special website featuring press releases, vehicle images, videos, and media kits.
BRAND TIP: Don't discount technology if it helps to promote your brand - and even better, use it if it provides the right information to the right people.

On the eve of the LA Auto Show, Edmunds, the leading car information and shopping network, posted a Tweet that highlighted a feature of the Lincoln MKX while simultaneously addressing a timely news story. See the Tweet below.
BRAND TIP: Follow the news and align your social media with stories that everyone is talking about. You never know when something you post will go viral. Remember Oreo's Tweet during the 2013 Super Bowl?

Image Credit: Twitter

Many trade shows and special events offer excellent branding tips that can be applied in different industries than they were intended, so be on the look-out. In the meantime, if you'd like to see more about the LA Auto Show, visit the website at

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Five #LeadershipTips from the 2016 Presidential Campaign

Today is the 58th Presidential Election. Without a doubt, this election is the pinnacle of one of the most tumultuous campaigns in American history. Hopefully, our new leader can unite the country - Democrats and Republicans, old and young, members of all ethnicities, and followers of all beliefs - so that we can begin to heal from the campaign and solve our nation's very serious economic, health, climate, and global challenges.

So let's put politics aside because, with the campaign now history, leadership abilities take center stage. Since Inauguration Day is still 10 weeks away, here are five leadership tips that stood out during Campaign 2016.

Watch your behavior in the workplace. Don't orchestrate dissatisfaction among your employees because they will model their behavior on yours.

Watch your words. Always be courteous and professional. Don't use curse words or ethnic slurs. Your employees will model their lingo on yours - and they will also quote you.

Don't use social media as a tool to be negative about an employee or his or her work. Don't ever post information that you know isn't true or could possibly be false. Remember, anything posted on social media can be online forever, so make sure it is suitable for your board of directors and employees to see.

Clearly define your goals. Don't use a tagline in lieu of actionable strategies. Explain your goals to your employees, be transparent, and answer questions yourself. Don't use a surrogate who may use short phrases rather than answering questions.

Surround yourself with the best and the brightest. Avoid people with an excess of negative publicity and lack of knowledge. You are only as talented as the team around you.

What leadership tips stood out to you during the campaign? Please chime in.

To learn more about the history of Presidential Elections, click here.

Image Credit: HypeOrlando

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Five Social Media Secrets That Never Go Out of Style

Anyone who spends time in social media has one or two favorite platforms. Some may prefer using Twitter, some may prefer using Facebook, and some may prefer an obscure site or one that fits a specific industry. Many of us who use social media as a marketing tool to build our employer's brand or our personal brand have also developed a secret or two along the way. Here are my five social media secrets that never go out of style.

Maintain a consistent name for all social media platforms. If a brand name is not available, use a familiar tagline. If "Nike" had been unavailable, the company could have used "JustDoIt," and everyone would immediately have recognized that any account with that name belonged to Nike. With all the social sites available to your brand, take some time to conduct a social media audit and re-evaluate the names of all your accounts. 

When blogging, feature pull quotes in large bold font. This will allow your readers to quickly and easily share your content on Twitter with your name and Twitter handle. 

Despite Visa's tagline of being "everywhere you want to be," acknowledge that your brand can't be everywhere. Do your research and see which social platform your key stakeholders and/or customers use and develop a strategy or strategies to make the biggest bang. Don't waste time building a presence on every new platform just because your son or daughter thinks the platform is a fun alternative to homework. (Think back a few years...everyone went Ga-Ga over Quora, and you don't hear anything about it today.) 


Capitalize on hashtags. Create and use hashtags with your brand name, your company name, key employees if they are industry influencers, and more. And use these hashtags on all your social platforms. You may even use them on traditional marketing collateral, such as, business cards, letterhead, brochures, etc.

Set up alerts for your brand, company name, industry, and more. This will let you know when others are talking about your brand or brands and allow you to chime in when appropriate. You will also be quickly informed if someone says something negative or untrue about your brand so you can comment or chose to remain silent. You may also wish to set up alerts about your competition and key influencers in your industry. The sites to use are Google Alerts ( and Talkwalker (

On a final note and to celebrate the spirit of social media, here's my fave Tweet of all time from Vala Afshar (@ValaAfshar), “Don't do social, be SOCIAL: sincere, open, collaborative, interested, authentic, and likeable.”

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Three Branding Lessons from Binge Watching

Recently, I had some time to catch up on what, for me, was a new TV show. Since I’ve seen every LAW AND ORDER marathon, this chunk of time was dedicated to watching the first three seasons of HOMELAND. With talented actors and a plot filled with twists and turns, I was immediately drawn into the action. Afterward, this experience left me pondering the impact of binge watching on branding, brand experiences, and customer experience marketing.


According to the BBC, "Collins English Dictionary has chosen binge-watch as its 2015 Word of the Year. Meaning to watch a large number of television programs (especially all the shows from one series) in succession, it reflects a marked change in viewing habits, due to subscription services like Netflix. Lexicographers noticed that its usage was up 200% on 2014. Helen Newstead, Head of Language Content at Collins, said, ‘The rise in usage of binge-watch is clearly linked to the biggest sea change in our viewing habits since the advent of the video recorder nearly 40 years ago. It's not uncommon for viewers to binge-watch a whole season of programs such as House of Cards or Breaking Bad in just a couple of evenings - something that, in the past, would have taken months - then discuss their binge-watching on social media.’"

Here are three branding lessons any brand can learn from binge watching:

If a TV series has an unexpected plot twist, viewers may get so upset that they stop watching the series completely. This not only impacts ratings and ad dollars, but it also damages the TV show’s brand equity. I won’t include any spoilers here, but suffice it say, the end of series three of HOMELAND featured an unexpected surprise. Some fans may have wondered if the series would be the same in series four and beyond, and some may have stopped watching. In January 2017, series six begins if you’d like to see how the series has evolved.

Before you make any change to your brand, whether it’s a logo change (recall The Gap and Instagram) or a change in the product’s taste (recall New Coke), it’s critical to consider both positive and negative “what if” scenarios. And, if the negative scenarios could result in going out of business (or in the case of a TV show, getting cancelled), by all means, don’t make the change.

On the other side of the coin, think back to the TV show DALLAS and the third season finale, its “Who Shot JR?” episode, that aired in March 1980. That episode’s mystery lasted throughout the summer of 1980, and the shooter was not revealed until the following season’s fourth episode in November 1980. Everyone had an opinion about JR’s shooter. And, actor Larry Hagman as JR Ewing even turned up on the cover of TIME magazine in August 1980.

In the event that your plot twist or brand change becomes big news, make sure that you have the bandwidth to be inclusive. One major reason that this show’s mystery was such a success was that there were so many possible shooters. Everyone had an opinion and could participate in the discussion.

Back to binge watching, what drew me to the particular show? The plot? The actors? A large chunk of available time? I chose to watch HOMELAND for all of those reasons, but there could have been others.

Understand that your viewers, fans, or new customers can encounter your brand with no previous knowledge about your competitive advantage. With that in mind, provide some basic information about your brand at the outset as a form of introduction.

Have you ever binge watched? What TV show? Please chime in.

If you’d like to read about all seasons of HOMELAND, check out the recaps here:

Oh, and does anyone know where I can get the first and second seasons of the Canadian police drama MOTIVE? Currently, each episode can be purchased separately on Amazon, which is not a user-friendly option.

Image Credits: Exstreamist and Time Magazine

Saturday, October 1, 2016

Brand Experiences, Brand Ambassadors and Brand Advocates, Oh My!

The subset of marketing known as branding, brand-building, brand engagement, brand experiences, and brand equity is my passion, so when I run into someone who shares this passion, I like to talk shop. Years ago, I had the pleasure to meet Elaine Fogel as a result of our social media activity, and over the years, I've enjoyed her blog and insights on Twitter. Recently, I invited Elaine to participate as a featured guest in a TweetChat for a nonprofit organization for communications and PR pros for whom I serve as a Board Member, and her Tweets provided much value to the chat. In case you don't know Elaine, a brief bio appears at the end of this post, which contains highlights from our recent discussion about branding.

How do you define a brand experience?
ELAINE FOGEL: A brand experience is any interaction one has with a brand. Brand experiences include a range of touchpoints including transactions (sales), website visits, inbound inquiries, communications, product or service usage, customer service, and more.

What makes a successful brand experience, and please provide three examples of your favorite brand experiences.
ELAINE FOGEL: A successful brand experience is when one’s interaction with a brand is easy, friendly, customer-oriented, and produces a positive result for the individual. As I wrote in my book, “Your brand is more than its logo, look, and colors. It emanates from the mindsets, attitudes, and behaviors of anyone and everyone involved in it. And, since success depends on its brand reputation, it’s critical that you do everything possible to ensure that your customers’ experiences are amazing.” No matter what we call it, anytime we interact with a brand, it is an experience.

Here are my faves:
I am an Amazon brand loyalist. Every time I purchase products, the experience is consistently positive. Once when I ordered a marble bathroom accessory set (tumbler and toothbrush holder), the tumbler arrived in pieces. I contacted the seller company and advised it of the situation. I assumed that I would have to return the set with the broken pieces to prove the damage. I was surprised when the customer service rep apologized and told me that it wasn’t necessary. She would credit my credit card for the full amount, and I could keep the toothbrush holder. Now, that experience went beyond my expectations.

Jet Blue Airlines is another example of a successful brand. I will always remember the flight attendants’ style on a flight several years ago. They were jovial and welcoming, making wisecracks and jokes in their announcements. Every seat was comfortable (and leather) and seat backs had individual TVs on which we could watch FREE movies or TV. No nickel and diming here. (That was before it became a common feature.) The flight departure was delayed quite a bit from its original time, and as compensation for our patience, the airline awarded passengers a few thousand miles to our frequent flyer accounts. This proactive approach delighted everyone and made the delay a distant memory.

This last brand experience was shared with me when I was conducting a customer service presentation for internal staff. Once you read it, you’ll know why I never forgot it. A man and woman checked into a luxury hotel. As with many luxury properties, the service was impeccable. After they checked out, the housekeeper noticed the woman’s nightgown hanging behind the bathroom door. So, one of the staff members called the male guest’s phone number to ask how the hotel could return the nightgown. When the woman answered, he explained that she had forgotten her nightgown in the room and he wanted to make arrangements to return it to her. Turns out the woman who answered the phone was NOT the woman her husband was with at the hotel! So, was it a successful brand experience when the intention was to offer 5-star service? What do you think?

How would you define the difference between a brand ambassador and a brand advocate?
ELAINE FOGEL: Brand ambassadors may or may not be compensated to serve as spokespeople for a brand. For example, in the corporate world, brand ambassadors can be experts related to the brand’s products or services. They may have access to "insider" information and be part of an external product team.

Paid celebrity spokespeople are another type of ambassador such as when a professional athlete does a TV spot for a local car dealership. An example of unpaid brand ambassadorship is when a charity’s board members and volunteers toot its horn and help it fulfill its mission.

Brand advocates are the people who absolutely love the brand and engage with it, talk about it, and share their passion.

With all the buzz surrounding social ROI, what metrics are important to you in the social space, and why?
ELAINE FOGEL: This is an interesting question because several studies I’ve read indicate that determining social ROI has been very difficult. In enterprises, there are teams devoted to social media in which they use top analytical tools to evaluate their tactics. For those of us without big budgets, there are many free and cheap tools available.

As a Hootsuite user (and affiliate), I have access to all my social media accounts in one dashboard. It’s much easier to engage with my connections and post links to my blog posts simultaneously. I have access to reports on my Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, and Google+ engagement, clicks by region, direct referrers, and which are my popular links.

I also measure how many people follow my calls to action through social media. This is even more important to me as it’s how I capture email subscribers and sell my book.

What do you think will be the central focus of our social media marketing discussions a year from now?
ELAINE FOGEL: I think the discussion will still focus on the ROI for the time and effort we devote to social media marketing. Even though I participate in it wholeheartedly, I admit that I have been somewhat skeptical all along. Is it producing results equivalent or close to what we put in? Could we be better off spending some of that time and money on more traditional channels? Multi-channel marketing based on a sound marketing plan can be much more effective than relying on one channel like social media marketing.

Much gratitude to Elaine for appearing here on my blog and applause for sharing my passion for branding!

Here's Elaine's Bio:
Elaine is a professional speaker, marketer, brand and customer experience evangelist, educator, and consultant. She has been a contributing writer to The Business Journal, and contributes to MarketingProfs, SmallBizClub (founded by NFL Hall of Famer and author, Fran Tarkenton), Business2Community, and People in 100+ countries have read her blog, Totally Uncorked on Marketing (, and her articles have appeared in many print and digital publications. She is also the author of the award-winning book, Beyond Your Logo: 7 Brand Ideas That Matter Most For Small Business Success ( I highly recommend that you follow Elaine on Twitter at @Elaine_Fogel (

Image Credit: Stuart Miles via

Sunday, September 25, 2016

Five #PersonalBranding Tips from Vin Scully

As all baseball fans from Los Angeles, all of America, and all over the world, know, the time has come for a classic to retire. Vin Scully, the voice of the Brooklyn and Los Angeles Dodgers for 67 years has announced his final home game for the LA Dodgers. While he will announce three additional games next weekend, the final three games of the Dodgers’ season, he will broadcast those games from San Francisco. There are countless articles online and in print publications recognizing Vin for his spirit, his humility, and his humanity, but as a brand marketer, I believe that everyone can learn five personal branding tips from this inspiring ambassador of baseball.

As Vin’s story goes, he grew up as a New York Giants fan (the baseball team that would eventually move to San Francisco). However, once he joined the Dodgers broadcast team, he could no longer publicly root for the Giants. That said, he dedicated himself to his job and became a rock of Gibraltar to his fans. They knew that whenever they turned on the radio or later, the television, he and his familiar voice would be broadcasting the game.

SHARE ON TWITTER: Vin Scully was the voice of the @Dodgers for 67 years. What can you learn from him? -@DebbieLaskeyMBA #personalbranding

Vin always had a story to tell about the ballplayers, both the Dodgers and all visiting team players. He made his broadcasts come to life, because listeners didn’t just hear about walks, strike-outs, and runs. Instead, he painted pictures with his words and the unique cadence of his voice. Sometimes, he even let the roar of the crowd tell the story. After Kurt Gibson hit a jaw-dropping home run in Game 1 of the 1988 World Series, Vin said, “She is gone.” Nearly 70 seconds after listening to the roar of the crowd, he uttered a statement that has gone down in history, “In a year that has been so improbable, the impossible has happened.” (A fun fact: My dad and I were sitting in the right field pavilion just a few rows up from where that home run was hit, so we didn't hear Vin's remarks until later that night on the TV newscast.)

SHARE ON TWITTER: Everyone has a story to tell, how do you tell yours? -@DebbieLaskeyMBA #personalbranding

Vin’s signature greeting was “Hello or good evening wherever you may be,” and to most, this seemed like a greeting from one family member to another. Since many of Vin’s fans never got the chance to meet face-to-face, his easy-going demeanor and friendly style transformed the connection of broadcaster and listener to two friends or relatives.

SHARE ON TWITTER: Do you have a signature tagline? -@DebbieLaskeyMBA #personalbranding

Once Vin joined the Dodgers broadcast team, he displayed no bias. Clearly, he was a lifelong Dodgers fan, but for the sake of other other teams and competing players, he never used the collective “We” that so many other famous broadcasters used, like Harry Carey of Chicago or Mel Allen of the Yankees. All teams embraced Vin because they knew he was impartial in his broadcasts.

SHARE ON TWITTER: Are you impartial in the workplace? -@DebbieLaskeyMBA #personalbranding

Vin always welcomed newcomers to the broadcast booth. From Jerry Doggett to Ross Porter to Rick Monday, and many, many more, he shared the booth and the microphone – and the fans knew it.

SHARE ON TWITTER: How do you collaborate with others? -@DebbieLaskeyMBA #personalbranding

From a personal standpoint, my father, who passed away last year, became a Dodgers fan at the age of seven. As a result, he listened to Vin Scully for nearly all of Scully’s years at the microphone and heard many Dodgers highlights from Vin including the 1955 World Series, Sandy Koufax’s perfect game, and the many victories in Los Angeles following the move from Brooklyn. According to my dad, Vin often became the 10th man on the field, because he translated the action for fans who weren’t at the ballpark.

On behalf of my dad, thanks for the memories, Vin!

Check out Vin’s letter to his fans: 

Check out Bill Plaschke’s article in the LA Times, “Vin Scully is a voice for the ages.”

Click to watch Gibson’s 1988 World Series home run and listen to Vin:

Image Credit: Pinterest

Monday, September 19, 2016

Ten Inspirational #Leadership Quotes

Everyone has read a book that inspires, whether it was a book during youth, college, or adulthood. If you’re lucky, you’ve also been inspired by a parent, a mentor, or a boss. But if not, don’t despair. Inspiration is omnipresent if you take the time to look. 

When it comes to leadership inspiration, I have ten favorite quotes. Check them out below, and I guarantee that you’ll be inspired.

Leadership is not a gift, not a position. It doesn’t require you to be the smartest person in the room. It requires you to block and tackle for others. –Mark Herbert (Twitter: @NewParadigmer)

A proven leader knows how to build consensus, the kind of person who makes everybody around him or her better. –President Obama in his introduction of Janet Yellen as the new Federal Reserve Chair in October 2013

Management is about arranging and telling. Leadership is about nurturing and enhancing. –Tom Peters

The pessimist complains about the wind. The optimist expects it to change. The leader adjusts the sails. –John Maxwell

If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader. –John Quincy Adams

A community is like a ship, everyone ought to be prepared to take the helm. –Henrik Ibsen in “An Enemy of the People”

Do not follow where the path may lead. Go instead where there is no path and leave a trail. –Harold R. McAlindon

Hire people who are better than you are, then leave them to get on with it. Look for people who will aim for the remarkable, who will not settle for the routine. –David Ogilvy

Trust is deepened by supporting the team, sharing credit with them, and even sacrificing for their welfare. –John Baldoni (Twitter: @JohnBaldoni)

I’ve learned that you can tell a lot about a person by the way he handles these three things: a rainy day, lost luggage, and tangled Christmas tree lights. –Maya Angelou

What words of wisdom inspire you about leaders and leadership? I invite you to chime in.