What Does Health Mean to My Brand?

What does the word “health” mean? If you say that healthy eating means organic and hormone-free food, while I say it is lean protein and red wine, who is right? The short answer is both of us. While that may be frustrating and a bit unnerving, it’s also an opportunity for your food, beverage or restaurant brand.

Photo Credit: Ted Etyan, Flickr

Today, consumers are bombarded with definitions of health, from fortified and gluten-free menu items to such ambiguous terms as “natural” and “fresh.” There are numerous interpretations of what constitutes health, and most may be argued as correct. This may be why 55% of consumers try to take some control over the healthfulness of their diet, according to the International Food Information Council’s Food & Health Survey 2015.

Because health can mean different things to different people, it is important that your customers easily understand what it means for your brand. If you plan to create a “healthy” product line extensions or menu section for the first time, it’s just as important to maintain your brand positioning. You want healthful products offerings to strengthen your brand equity rather than dilute it…


#HigherEd Forecast: Tough Choices Ahead

tough choices aheadInside Higher Ed’s survey of college business officers forecasts hard choices ahead for many of the nation’s colleges and universities.

Only 42 percent of college and university CFOs believe their institution’s business model is sustainable over the next decade. Eighty-two percent say they’ll address financial challenges by increasing enrollment.

Some will succeed with an increased enrollment strategy, but many recruitment efforts will falter against changing demographics, increasing competition and rising tuition costs.

Unfortunately, more business chiefs and their institutions will have to weather tough financial times by making harder and more painful decisions.

Some, like the University of Akron, are making tough calls today, but most aren’t. Less than 40 percent of survey respondents say their institutions are exploring administrative partnerships with other colleges, eliminating under-performing academic programs or reducing administrative positions.

That number will surely increase as escalating financial challenges force more institutions to consider alternatives beyond enrollment increases.

As finances get tougher on campus, business leaders would do well to communicate early and often with audiences beyond the administration building so that everyone understands the issues and the options being considered to deal with them.

For example, just 32…


Why Health Industry CEOs Should Blog

blog computer keyI recently read an article in a local business trade about what makes a CEO trustworthy to investors. The author told the story of how a woman without financial savvy inherited a portfolio from her father and, in conjunction with a financial advisor, gave a thumbs up or down based on reading the chief executive’s letter to shareholders for each new investment. And you thought no one read those….

Not only are people taking notice of what company executives are saying, but they are also paying attention to those who are not saying anything, or those who speak using corporate jargon. A timely case in point for why to avoid jargon is the recent announcement by Anthem and Cigna regarding their pending merger:

“Together our companies would rapidly build on each other’s complementary strengths to create a diversified platform that could better capitalize on new opportunities and meaningfully deliver innovative, quality solutions to all of our stakeholders,” said Joseph Swedish, president and chief executive officer of Anthem.”

“Anthem expects the combination would be accretive to operating earnings per share and that the combined enterprise would generate significant annual cost synergies by achieving…


Top 3 things communicators can learn from Reddit’s Debacle, per Reddit

imagesWho:, billed as “the front page of the internet;” it is where over 165 million monthly unique visitors are drawn to share just about anything on just about anything, if you will.

What: Hundreds of subreddits (the moniker given to Reddit’s massive amount of diverse forum boards) were blacked out, denying its loyal followers access to an otherwise very accessible medium.

Where: Based in San Francisco, but with an Alexa ranking (website popularity ranking based off average daily visitors and page views) of 33 globally and nine in the U.S., much more publicly than San Fran.

When: July 2nd—just before the fireworks went off; the fireworks went off.

Why: In protest of an unexpected and unaccounted dismissal of now former director of communications, Victoria Taylor. Taylor was “responsible for nearly all of reddit’s positive press,” said a moderator (volunteers who police and in this case coordinate content of subreddits)  in the subreddit /r/AmA (Ask Me Anything), a wildly-popular forum where guests such as Barack Obama, frequently Arnold Schwarzenegger, Bill Gates and a smattering of who’s who answer “redditors” questions. She was almost solely responsible for reaching out and facilitating these user-conducted interviews and…


You are Misperceived By Most People, Unless You Are Attractive, a Woman and Happy

Perceptions are reality and being perceived accurately has a big impact on anyone’s success, self-confidence and overall happiness. That’s not an opinion – it’s based upon proven science.  How you are perceived is not random and you have much more control than you might think. Scientists have discovered that people with certain traits are naturally more likely to be perceived accurately, while others have to work much harder to ensure that others perceive their authentic strengths.


If others don’t accurately perceive your authentic strengths, how authentic are you?  Knowing about the science-based findings behind perceptions will definitely help you to be perceived more accurately and be respected by others as being more authentic.  Authenticity breeds trust and trust breeds successful, fulfilling relationships.

Some people take managing perceptions for granted.  Others are intimidated by the intangible nature of perceptions or feel they have little control over how others perceive them and fall short of making the effort to manage how they are perceived.  The over-confident and the avoiders are both missing opportunities to take advantage of the power of perceptions.  There is a science about perceptions that’s been around for a while, starting in…


The Sweet Briar Brand Imperative: Trust


The recent legal victory that keeps Sweet Briar College open this fall puts its brand on the line.

A year from now, will students, parents, prospects, faculty, staff and alumnae perceive a college of new direction and ideas? Or will they continue to perceive business-as-usual uncertainty?

New president Phillip Stone will set the course when he takes office June 29. Job one: establishing trust.

With a to-do list a mile long after months of legal limbo, he’ll have plenty of opportunity to earn it. Stone’s priorities include meeting financial obligations, uniting faculty, administrators and students, convincing new students to come and, of course, raising more money.

All of this with fires raging. Saving Sweet Briar Inc., the nonprofit group that mounted a fundraising effort to keep the college open, must provide $12 million to the college’s ongoing operations. Of the $21 million in pledges secured by the group, however, only five percent of the money has been received. Many professors have taken other jobs since the closing announcement in February. Many students, too, have But wait, there’s more!


Heat up your summer branding campaign

The sun is shining, school is out, families are active and summer campaigns are in full swing for brands. Consumers are out and about, enjoying the warm weather and everyone is more accessible to marketing campaigns. Traditionally, consumers spend the most money during summer making it is an excellent time to promote your brand. Here are seven tips to consider when planning for your summer campaigns:

1. Depict the spirit of summer
Capture consumers’ attention with nostalgia and bring them back to childhood memories. Use bright colors, upbeat songs, and carefree summer activities in your content. Jeep’s “Call of Summer” featured a series of fun summer scenes conveying freedom, sunshine and selfies.

2. Craft a captivating story
Use variety types of campaign content throughout the season, tying all pieces of content together and weaving consistent messaging throughout to keep your brand top of mind. Bud Light recently released the “Whatever, USA” campaign across different mediums and platforms, but the messaging was the same: Bud Light is perfect for “whatever.”


3. Integrate with social media
Keep your content flowing from one platform to another by designing content for each type of social media post (Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Instagram, etc.).…


For Mature Brands – Like KFC and McDonald’s – Is Going ‘Back to the Future’ the Right Move?

Colonel Sanders

KFC has become the latest mature brand to unlock its archives to resuscitate old icons in an effort to revive declining sales. KFC has hired “Saturday Night Live” alum Darrell Hammond to play the legendary Colonel Sanders in new commercials that debuted in May.

hamburglar-hed-2015The return of the Colonel came just weeks after McDonald’s debut a new hipster Hamburglar, a character that hadn’t been seen in television commercials in over a decade.

But is it good business for mature brands to use old icons in new marketing campaigns?

Probably not, says Kelly O’Keefe, PadillaCRT Chief Branding Officer and professor at the Virginia Commonwealth University Brandcenter, the #1 ranked graduate advertising program in the country.

“Truth is, nostalgia just reminds us that a brand is old. That’s exactly the wrong message,” O’Keefe said. “So what works for tired mature brands? Newness. Not saying new things. Doing new things.”

For example, Kelly said that if McDonald’s really wanted to evoke “newness,” the burger behemoth could nix the frozen patties in favor of fresher, leaner beef. It also…


On-Demand Culture: How Can Brands Keep Up?

1How did you start your day? My morning ritual includes a cup of tea, a look through my BBC News app, a podcast download for my subway ride, a peek at my Instagram feed and then an occasional Amazon Prime purchase – whether it’s restocking the apartment with necessities or a new book. That last item is not instant like the rest, but I know it’ll arrive within the next business day. All this and for those who know me, I’m NOT a morning person.

Our culture has evolved into one that seeks instant gratification in this digital age. Consumers expect fulfillment on demand and across the consumer journey, each touch is a brand experience. They want to interact at any time and any place. Let’s look at some companies who have evolved and then a few who were born out of this trend:

Amazon Prime – Everything on Demand

How do they deliver so quickly? In many cases, it’s robots shuffling your packages around to work faster and more efficiently than any human. Watch the video below to check it out, plus find out about their newest Dash product.

Netflix – Movies…


BuzzLine: Ben and Jerry’s Saving the World?

17384549899_315b90d0c9_zThere’s nothing more refreshing than a cold ice cream cone on a sweltering hot summer day. But what if that ice cream was only 2 degrees warmer and melting down your arm covering you in a sugary, sticky mess? That’s what Ben and Jerry’s wants you to consider with its newest ice cream flavor, Save Our Swirled.

The flavor is part of its newest cause related marketing campaign to encourage people to sign a petition demanding action on climate change when diplomats meet in Paris in December to negotiate a new climate agreement.

With the climate change talks coming up in less than a year, it’s the perfect time for Ben and Jerry’s to execute an on-brand corporate social responsibility campaign and partner with activist groups to make progress toward a common goal. But let’s be honest, the flavor also just sounds mouthwatering: raspberry ice cream with marshmallow and raspberry swirls, along with dark and white fudge ice cream cones…count us in!

If you were Ben and Jerry’s, what would your next ice cream flavor be, or, what would you rename one of their current flavors?

Tell us your six-word  ice cream flavor  in…