Archives for category: Branding


Dang it, Story is good. They’re so good that they just tweaked the nose of Coca Cola – a brand they follow and admire. The charge: old-school bullshitting.

Check out this post, where Story lays out a new Coke ad that purports to be about making strides against obesity. Noble, to a point… but when Coke sets itself up to make the (much-needed) honest statement about owning its role in the obesity crisis, Coke whiffs.

Rightly, Story points out that transparency is a zero-sum activity – – you’re either COMPLETELY transparent about your mistakes (and efforts to make things better) or you’re bullshit.

Coke, Lance Armstrong, Anthony Weiner… welcome to the 21st century. Get with the program, or STFU.


legoyayIt’s been a while, I know, I know, but moving quickly along, this story from LEGO caught my eye – – one of the best company stories I’ve heard in a while.

Or maybe I’m just a sucker for a happy ending…

The Subject Line is: “What a Lemonade Stand Taught Me About Storytelling” – – the email starts like this: “I was on my way to play golf this past weekend when I drove by a young girl selling lemonade on the sidewalk in front of her house….

I know the source, so in two seconds, I’m drawn in.

In 5 more, I see video clips from Seth Godin and Rolf Jensen – business storytelling legends – that support the premise that a little girl’s lemonade stand is relevant to my brand. Great communication about communication.

~ Christopher Smith

Makes ya’ wonder: does one keep returning to the same information resource / magazine / blog / radio station… because it confirms the reader’s worldview? Or because it continually informs, and the worldview adjusts accordingly?

Probably a bit of both, but I get great comfort reading Fast Company and seeing ideas I can relate to and agree with. For me, I get a bit of both from Fast Company – no matter what I read, I always learn something. Many times it’s just a new way to articulate a big idea.

It’s been 10 years since Don Rood of The Felt Hat melted my brain (in a good way) with “A brand is a promise.” The sound still goes off for a second when I think about the way he describes brands.

In 9 Principles for Great Branding by Design , here’s the plain-speak gem: “A brand is not your logo or ID system…It’s a gut feeling people have about you. When two or more people have the same feeling, you have a brand. You get that feeling via smart design, which creates the experiences people have with the brand. Everything you do creates the brand experience, ergo design IS your brand.”

~ Christopher Smith

I know, I know, I need to use a new resource… but GOOD keeps on giving, and I want to share this great example of the power of storytelling with my thousands of readers (cue the crickets…).

Seems little bitty library in a little bitty town (Shutesbury, MA) is under threat of closure. Just like in your hometown, “Kids come to practice their reading. Adults come to use internet and search for jobs. And just like in other towns, a budget crisis is preventing the community from maintaining the facility they deserve: The 900-square foot building, built in 1902, doesn’t have running water or even any space for patrons to sit down and hang out. Much of the town is restricted to dial-up internet, so townspeople naturally want to use the library’s high speed connection, says Emily Bloch, a volunteer. “Except there’s no place for people to sit inside, so people park in the parking lot and idle with their laptops.”

So small there’s no place to sit down? What’s to love?

A lot, as it turns out. Libraries everywhere are under siege by the dual threats of imploding tax revenues and the internet.

But Shutesbury is not going to allow its library to go down easy:

“An incredibly cute YouTube video by filmmaker Lindsay Van Dyke recruited local people to demonstrate their love of their library. The short gets to the essence of what makes libraries so important: having a haven for ideas, inspiration, and creativity. The video’s gotten 35,000 hits in a little more than a month, inspiring nearly $40,000 in donations from donors across the country as well as Singapore, Australia, Canada, Kenya, and Europe.”

I couldn’t summarize this story any better than GOOD has, so here goes: “It’s an amazing example of what creativity combined with a community’s passion can do to get the world engaged about a local problem.”

Make a donation fans. Save a library.

~Christopher Smith

Some days, I think I could get all my news from GOOD. Which is why I get their daily blast – it’s well designed, uplifting and stimulating.

For example, this story about HCD Connect, a new platform designed by and (funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation) to design solutions for people in extreme poverty.

Sharing stories with your global peers in order to help those critically in need of design solutions?

Has storytelling ever been more important?

~ Christopher Smith

Legend has it, Clark Gable took off his top in 1934’s It Happened One Night, revealing a naked chest, and the men’s underwear industry lost its shirt.

And so, product placement was born (more or less).

These days, product placement is a must-have (oh no – is there a Mazda in The Lorax?) — Even the sustainable industries are getting into the act – lookie here

Point is, any company or industry, as long as it does so authentically (honestly), should tell its own story by leveraging other media with similar values, to reach its target.

~ Christopher Smith

Nike+ (version1.0) was a jump shot in a set shot world – – a platform-sized idea that has engaged over 6,000,000 users since its launch in 2006. Nike Fuel takes it up a notch and the next generation of Nike+ falls right in sync

Stefan Olander and Mark Parker are on a roll.

More on the game-changers at Nike Digital Sport: The Nike Plus platform is another example of how Nike Digital Sport is changing the game of relating to its customers.

R/GA is the agency. Wow~

You have to have some major firepower to pull off concepts this big – – but it’s a doable strategy on a smaller scale, too.

Platform + Strategy. Just Do It.

~ Christopher Smith

Mobility Chic has been working hard to develop a host of new products for people with mobility challenges.

So first, for those of us who are ambulatory, what does “mobility challenge” mean?

  • An parent or grandparent who uses a walker or wheelchair to get around
  • A breast cancer patient who drives or rides and the seat belt hurts
  • Anyone in a wheelchair who wants to personalize his or her ride

After a great deal of product testing, Mobility Chic has just launched the ChicBelt – first designed for mastectomy patients. It fits easily on the chest-harness of the seat belt. For now, it comes in 2 colors that have tested very well – pink or green, but I bet if you asked, you could get another fabric.

Coolest part of this story: it was designed for women, by women, to solve an all-too-common problem.

~ Christopher Smith