If Nothing Else, Start With Respect

(Reading Time: 2 minutes)

“Manipulating the masses into buying stuff they don’t need!  That’s what I do!  That’s marketing!”

That’s an actual quote I once heard from a marketing director.  This was during an inventing session, the goal of which was to create new products that would make his customers (in other words, people) happier.

I’ve also been in a conference room when an executive flat-out called his customers (also people) “stupid.”

Continue reading “If Nothing Else, Start With Respect”

J.K. Rowling Is a Hack


(Reading Time: < 1 minute)J.K. Rowling is a hack.

I don’t believe that, but some people do.  Devotees of Hemingway think she uses too many adverbs, probably.  And some call her stories “derivative.”

J.K. Rowling Is a Hack
Hero to many, hack to a few. (Credit: JKRowling.com)

Many, many others love Rowling’s vividly imaginative worlds and the lessons of her stories.  More than a few people even have Harry Potter tattoos.  And, as Roy Peter Clark notes, Rowling’s gift for naming characters is virtually unparalleled. Continue reading “J.K. Rowling Is a Hack”

“This Is a Skyscraper,” and Other Lies We Tell Ourselves


(Reading Time: 2 minutes)There’s a terrific scene in the movie “Big,” in which Paul, the rival of Tom Hanks’ Josh, shares his silver-bullet idea for the upcoming year.

In the spirit of toys that transform, it’s a robot that turns into a… building.

Matthew Fenton Chicago Brand Strategy
“This is a skyscraper!” – the incomparable John Heard

“I don’t get it,” Josh famously says.  “There’s a million robots that turn into something.  This is a building that turns into a robot.  What’s fun about playing with a building?  That’s not any fun!”

“This is a skyscraper!” Paul insists. Continue reading ““This Is a Skyscraper,” and Other Lies We Tell Ourselves”

Be Selective (To Do More With Less)

Be selective to do more with less


(Reading Time: 2 minutes)Be selective.

This is not a suggestion or an empty mantra.  It’s one of the very few brand-building imperatives I’ll propose to you.

As a leader of a challenger brand, you’re starting from behind, and with fewer resources than your competitors.  And limited resources must be focused if they are to have maximum impact.

Here are five important ways you can be selective: Continue reading “Be Selective (To Do More With Less)”

Standing at the Crossroads: Will You Choose Bigger or Better?

Will you choose bigger or better?


(Reading Time: 2 minutes)If growing your brand is among your priorities, at some point you’ll face a choice:

Would you rather grow rapidly, even if it means sacrificing the quality of your experience?

Or would you rather grow more slowly, while maintaining or improving the quality of your experience?

In other words: If you had to choose, would you rather be bigger or better? Continue reading “Standing at the Crossroads: Will You Choose Bigger or Better?”