What’s in the Power of a (Re)Brand? Everything

Photo by Melissa Olson for Kent State Magazine

Rebranding is all over the news these days as brands deal with changing audiences, shifting priorities and, in some cases, dramatically altered landscapes. I was reading a story in Kent State Magazine about my alma mater’s rebranding, when a quote caught my eye.

“A brand articulates our aspirations and elevates us to where we want to be — a distinguished and thriving research university, full of remarkable scholars, students and staff.” -Kent State President Beverly Warren

The first part of President Warren’s quote nails what a brand is, but there’s also a second part to the equation. A brand’s customers, or target audiences, have to buy in to those aspirations. Brands live in the real world, not a vacuum. If your customers (or potential new customers) don’t buy what you’re selling, so to speak, your aspirations and where you want to be don’t mean much.

Let’s look at two high profile examples. Budweiser tried to boost its summer sales by temporarily renaming its beer, America. That’s right, the popular beer manufacturer ditched its memorable ad campaigns and iconic Clydesdales to put our country’s name on its label for the summer. Who’s up for an ice cold America?

Budweiser becomes America temporarily.

Image courtesy of Fast Company Design

While this odd move probably won’t hurt the company’s sales (summer is beer-drinking season), it’s been met by mockery online and seen as an attention grab by the press. Even worse, it’s brought the company’s Belgium ownership into the conversation, which is not something that a brand marketed on patriotism and American ideals wants to discuss.

Budweiser, err America, isn’t the only well-known brand to freshen up its look lately. Instagram felt its logo was outdated, so the company unveiled its new, modern look this week. While the previous logo represented a camera, the fast-growing social platform “wanted to create a look that would represent the community’s full range of expression — past, present, and future.” (Read more on the rebrand here.)

More on branding: The True Power of Brand // Branding Is A Feeling, Not A Noun

That makes sense. Why hasn’t the Instagram community (and world) embraced it? The company is right that most people (outside of professional photographers) don’t use stand-alone cameras to take the pictures they post on its platform today, and you can now post videos too. But Instagram is still a visually-inspired platform, which is what the camera icon represented to so many people.

Instagram unveils its new logo

Image courtesy of Adweek

Sometimes brands are so focused on short term sales or attention, they forget the essence of who they are or why consumers love them. As KSU President Warren notes, “Our brand is not a tagline, logo or glitzy website. Rather, it is what people think and feel when they hear the name “Kent State.” It is about the big idea. In essence, it is about defining and sharing the heart of Kent State.”

I’m proud that my alma mater has handled its rebranding process so well and that brands everywhere, from beer manufacturers to social platforms, could learn a thing or two from a university where I learned so much.

A Lesson on (Re)Branding

What do you think about Budweiser’s temporary name change or Instagram’s new look?

What other brand has handled the rebranding process well?

What brand needs to rebrand?

A proud KSU alumna (and fan of great branding everywhere),
Jaime

Let’s chat (about branding, your marketing needs or otherwise):
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I’m Thankful For… Unplugging & Reconnecting

“Don’t be a jerk. Try to love everyone. Give more than you take. And do it despite the fact that you only really like about seven out of 500 people.”  –Judd Apatow

As a country, America tends to be cynical and polarized, impatient and angry. Maybe it’s our roots. Maybe it’s our lifestyle. Whatever it is, let’s put it all aside for one day. Let’s unplug and reconnect with those close to us, be patient and understanding with strangers we meet. Guess what? If you’re running to the grocery store on Thanksgiving morning, EVERYONE is in a hurry. Trust me, it’s not just you.

happiness_ernohannink_flickr

My Thanksgiving tradition begins early, rising before daylight in order to get ready to run a Turkey Trot. (It makes me feel better later when I’m enjoying a slice of my decadent peanut butter cream pie.) After running in the cold, I stop in a Starbucks on my trip South to see family for a steaming hot latte. It helps perk me up for the day ahead.

Last year, I was surprised when the barista who took my order told me that she volunteered to work Thanksgiving morning. Her goodwill earned her a hall pass from having to come in that night (when her family gets together) and serve the energized Black Friday crowd. Plus, she mentioned that everyone was in a good mood and even tipped more.

Maybe there’s something to that. Maybe there’s an extra sense of gratitude in the air on Thanksgiving Day, some added patience that helps you smile and forgive a stranger’s transgressions.

Whatever it is, let’s follow its lead. Smile at strangers. Wish them a happy Thanksgiving. Gently steer your drunk uncle in another direction when he starts talking politics. Don’t rip distracted Aunt Hilda a new one for forgetting her expected contribution AGAIN. And if you head out — to a store or restaurant or Starbucks, be nice to the workers. They’re spending their Thanksgiving serving you, and that’s something to be thankful for.

Everyone’s not fortunate enough to have a warm place to go on Thanksgiving. If you or someone you know is hurting this Holiday season, our friends at TED have pulled together information on where you can find a warm Thanksgiving meal near you

Join the Conversation

What’s your Thanksgiving tradition?

What’s your favorite food on your Thanksgiving menu?

What are you thankful for this year?

p.s. I’m spending Thanksgiving Day with family and friends (for which I’m thankful), so there won’t be a blog post on Thursday. If you’re looking for reading material, check out the I’m Grateful For… series. I’ll see you again on Tuesday, December 2nd, to talk about social media and selling. Same bat time, same bat channel!

p.p.s. Happy Thanksgiving to our Canadian, Liberian, Grenadian and Norfolk Islander friends who have already celebrated. Yep, it’s not just a U.S. Holiday.

Incredibly thankful and eternally grateful,
Jaime

We’d be thankful if you’d join our conversation. 
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Who has more rights — you or me?

We’re blessed with an abundance of rights in this country. We have a right to free speech, the right to practice any religion of our choosing, the right to voice our dissent and peacefully protest. We vote our leaders into office, participate in local government and sit on school boards.

United States Constitution

“We the People of the United States of America…”

So what do we do when our rights collide? Think about it. There’s approximately 314 million people in this country. That’s 314 million people from all over the world with vastly different opinions and preferences, tastes and traditions. The religion your family has devoutly practiced for generations is referred to as witchcraft by others. The clothes that you choose to wear are frowned upon by more conservative types. Your thoughts and beliefs are 180° from people you work with every day.

Who has more rights: you or me? You’re signing petitions to get my favorite show removed from the air. Do your rights go beyond not watching it? Do you have the right to have it removed from the air? Don’t I have the right to watch it? The music you buy offends some people. They work to have it pulled from the shelves. Your free speech is vehemently opposed by others, so they sue to have your rights rescinded. Who has more rights: the speakers or those who don’t want to listen?

“America isn’t easy. America is advanced citizenship. You’ve gotta want it bad, cause it’s gonna put up a fight.”


When I was in college, a 17-year-old went to a store in our city and bought music his dad didn’t approve of. Instead of being angry at his son, the father was incensed that music with explicit lyrics was for sale — anywhere. He started a petition, rallied friends & families and insisted that his 17-year-old son should not be tempted by this evil music. The store, an international chain, responded by pulling all explicit lyric music from its shelves. A journalist from our school paper wrote an article explaining how quickly we wouldn’t have any music left in the world following this trend. Trust me, no matter how much you love something, someone somewhere hates it.

Let your voice be heard on this important subject.

Who’s rights prevail when our rights collide?

How far do our rights go — to change the channel or have a show removed from the air?

International friends, how is this dilemma handled in your country?

I’m looking forward to your thoughts!

“Constitution of the United States and Feather Quill” by Rosie O’Beirne // CC BY 2.0 
“American President Speech” via António Costa Amaral

Cheers,
Jaime

Exercise your right to connect!
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America the Beautiful

Freedom isn’t free… Thank you to the men and women of the Armed Forces who have served and sacrificed at home and around the world to keep us free.

Independence Day collage

We hope our US friends had a safe and happy Fourth of July and continue celebrating (and remembering) through the holiday weekend.

Wow, 237 years old. I’m sure our Founding Fathers would have been thrilled if they had known the fledgling nation they founded on blood, sweat, tears and a heap of courage, would still be going strong today.

What’s your favorite Fourth of July tradition? Did you start a new one this year?

The picture collage above showcases some of my favorite memories that come to mind when I think of America and Independence Day. What comes to mind for you?

Independence Day also brings to mind one of my favorite songs, God Bless the USA by Lee Greenwood. I was fortunate enough to see Mr. Greenwood perform this iconic song live and it’s chilling. I still get goosebumps every time I hear it.

I’ll leave you with that beautiful song to enjoy your weekend. To our International friends, have a wonderful weekend and thanks for reading! We get a little patriotic this time of year. 🙂

Video courtesy of ccmytubenz YouTube channel

God Bless the USA,
Jaime

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What The American President Got Right About America — And Marriage Equality

I thought this post from March 30, 2012, was especially relevant today and worth a share.

What The American President Got Right About America — And Marriage Equality.

Please read and share your thoughts…

Cheers,
Jaime

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What The American President Got Right About America — And Marriage Equality

One of my favorite movies is The American President, and the scene that always jumps to mind is President Andrew Shepherd’s (an inspired performance by Michael Douglas) speech on America. If you haven’t seen it or just want to relive it, here you go.

Why do I love this speech? It nails the best — and hardest — things about living in this country. As Shepherd says…

“America isn’t easy. America is advanced citizenship. You gotta want it bad, ’cause it’s gonna put up a fight.”

Living in America brings freedom of speech, the ability to practice whatever religion you so desire, the right to peacefully assemble, to protest. It does not bring insulation from others’ opinions, ways of life or personal beliefs. The law is not your personal value system. Just because something is legal doesn’t mean that you personally agree with it; it means that other people in this country have rights as well.

It's time for marriage equality.

As the Supreme Court debates marriage equality, a furor has erupted from both sides on the issue. However, it makes sense to take a step back while taking a deep breath. It doesn’t matter (in a legal sense) if you’re for or against marriage equality; it’s necessary or the 14th Amendment isn’t really law.

All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside. No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.

The law’s pretty clear. Our LGBU friends should legally be allowed to enjoy the benefits of marriage just like their heterosexual counterparts. To quote the aforementioned fictitious President Shepherd…

“You want to claim this land as the land of the free? Then the symbol of your country can’t just be a flag; the symbol also has to be one of its citizens exercising his right to burn that flag in protest. Show me that, defend that, celebrate that in your classrooms. Then, you can stand up and sing about the “land of the free”.

Yes, we all need personal value systems and beliefs to navigate our course in life. Legalizing marriage equality isn’t an attack on or a support of your personal beliefs; it’s simply extending benefits of citizenry to those currently without. If you’re straight, it won’t directly affect your life. But to our gay friends, it’s an overdue part of the process toward equality.

Obviously, this is a contentious issue, so I would love your thoughts. Is my logic correct? Or do you believe that the law is about morality and personal beliefs?

Video of speech courtesy of antoniocostaamaral via YouTube

Image courtesy of The Human Rights Campaign via Storify

Looking forward to the day we’re all equal,
Jaime

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