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An Event Steeped in History In 2016 I had the honor of completing the Boston Marathon. It was an experience I won’t ever forget and I truly learned why Marathon Monday is a special date for Bostonians since it was first run in 1897. Its symbolism of strength, hope, courage, and endurance has resonated with people across generations and decades. The site of runners starting their journey in Hopkinton and finishing across Boylston Street 26.2 miles later is one that brings the whole city together and is a celebration that many people come from all over to see. I won’t ever forget seeing the crowds of people cheering everyone on and coming out in droves to watch the race. [tweetshare tweet="From Dana-Farber

McDonald’s acquisition of machine learning startup Dynamic Yield was almost as big a surprise as when we found out that their fries were once fried in beef fat. Some were surprised. Others? Not so much.   By taking a serious interest in machine learning—well, literally a full interest— McDonald’s is simply keeping pace with technology and staying ahead of consumer needs.   Here’s how it works, as far as I understand it: McDonald’s has more data than a milkshake has empty calories. With this acquisition they can put it to good use, tweaking what and how menus offer up based on weather, location, time of day, and, of course, history. This capability can only speed up the ordering process, something both the

My, how time flies. It seems like just yesterday we were making those New Year’s resolutions and plotting out all those audaciously ambitious goals for 2019. Well my friends, Q1 is history and if you’re like most people (including yours truly), you have probably been distracted by less important but more urgent matters. That means your plans are sitting at home alone like a lonely puppy waiting for his family to return at the end of the day.   It’s now or never really, to ask ourselves if those branding projects really are a priority or just a nice to have? If the latter, take a deep breath and relax. Focus on the day-to-day and move on. However, if it’s the

How will Apple’s shifting business model impact the Apple brand strategy? Great question!   On March 28, 2019, Apple announced its plans for news distribution, content creation and distribution, and money distribution (vis a vis a new credit card). These announcements are the latest signs of the company’s shift from a device to a content strategy. Does that business strategy require a new brand strategy? No, I don’t think so. [tweetshare tweet="Focusing on storytelling as a core function is quite relevant and competitively differentiated for the Apple brand. " username="SB_Branding"] To explain why, let’s remind ourselves of the Apple brand promise: “Make a dent in the universe by challenging the status quo and thinking differently. We believe equally in art and technology.”

St. Patrick’s Day may officially memorialize Ireland’s foremost saint, but it’s expanded to celebrate Irish culture in general, all over the Western world. In our hometown of Boston, the holiday is especially popular. This year, we thought it would be fun to look at the similarities and differences of doing business in Ireland and the United States.   To aid us in our quest, I reached out to our friends in the Boston office of Enterprise Ireland and spoke with Amy Robinson, Trade Development Executive for Life Sciences & Digital Health. Enterprise Ireland is the government organization responsible for the development and growth of Irish enterprises in world markets. They partner with Irish brands to help them start, grow, innovate, and

A Cornerstone of Any Successful Brand Competitive differentiation. It’s something we stress a lot here, and if you’ve been following us and our work on how to brand your business, you know that we urge brands to make themselves as relevant and competitively differentiated as possible.   Sure, the product or service you are offering right now may be the only show in town, but that will not always be the case.   Past Examples Just look at Netflix, back in the day they were a footnote to industry-giant Blockbuster. They were even laughed out of the room when they proposed a partnership.   But oh, how the times change. Netflix is now ubiquitous and Blockbuster very much a thing of the past (except in

For many companies, the internal communications function is a necessary annoyance. They’re missing out. It can connect directly to the bottom line. On March 12, I will speak to a group of internal communications professionals at the Internal Comms Pro Morning Brew about the connection internal communications can and should have to the bottom line. During the presentation, I will lay out my premise, where the brand strategy can most easily support internal communications, and most importantly, how to make it all happen. [tweetshare tweet="If you’re doing both brand management and internal communications correctly, it would be impossible for the brand not to be a part of all employee messages." username="SB_Branding"]   To tease it out a bit, here are three ways internal

Last week I had the opportunity to sit in on a Founder’s Live pitch event in Boston, held at the CIC (where we have our offices). As always, these entrepreneurs were smart, passionate, and promoting incredible ideas. However, of the five participants, three of them received the comment from the judges: “I have no idea what you do.”   On the one hand, this is surprising. The entire point of a pitch is to explain what you do in a way that excites potential investors to learn more. A clear description of what one does would seem to be the first thing these founders would master.   On the other hand, as a brand strategist, I was not surprised at all.  Established,

Changing a Name Brand. A name brand you recognize decides to change their name. The world is shocked, right? Dunkin’ Donuts goes to just Dunkin’. Weight Watchers goes to just ‘WW.’ Kentucky Fried Chicken is just ‘KFC.’ Well, annoyances aside, changing a company name can be a smart move, if aligned with the brand strategy. Changing a name brand in a vacuum is never a good idea, and the result will be a piecemeal company with glaring inconsistencies.   Real World Examples. Take the above example. Dunkin’ Donuts changing their name just to Dunkin’. When this move happened, I saw numerous comments on the internet about how stupid this was. How this would be regarded as one of the biggest branding blunders in history. [tweetshare tweet="Changing

You know the feeling. You’ve just left another meeting where there’s a half-hearted agreement about a course of action that, much like those before it, will either never come to fruition or if it does, it will simply fail. It doesn’t matter what, really. A marketing campaign, a client retention effort, or a new way to build morale. Deep down, everyone knows that it won’t work, but it’s better than doing nothing at all. When Groundhog Day happens every day, you have a problem and we are willing to wager the problem lies with your brand strategy. After all, the brand strategy has one goal: nurture and protect the relationships you have with those most important to your success. Namely,