5 Cool Gift Ideas for Creative Professionals

It’s the most wonderful time of the year! While some people stress over gift-giving, we enjoy the process of finding the perfect gifts for everyone on our list. (It even sharpens our marketing skills!)

Danbo Santa Claus by Takashi Hososhima via CC BY-SA 2.0

Danbo Santa Claus by Takashi Hososhima via CC BY-SA 2.0 http://bit.ly/2gWkJS8

If you’re buying for a creative professional, check out our ideas for the mad men or women in your life.

Moleskine Notebooks
Creatives love notebooks, and these are the cream of the crop. Of course you don’t have to buy Moleskine, but they do offer special, themed and creativity styles along with personalization. Looking to splurge? Consider the Smart Writing Set.

Starbucks (or enter favorite coffee shop here) Gift Card
Coffee shops are a second home or office for creatives. There’s just something about the atmosphere that gets the juices flowing. A Starbucks gift card is a charger for a creative and may lead to a breakthrough that changes your recipient’s life. Remember to take some credit if that happens!

Cool Travel Mug / Coffee Mug 
Notice that we said cool. Creative types are typically coffee fans, so they need a cool travel mug when they’re on the go and a traditional mug at home or in the office. Think about your recipient’s tastes — favorite shows, authors, teams, movies — and don’t forget about the aforementioned coffee shop. Pick up some cool swag from your recipient’s favorite coffee shop and include a gift card. Win-win!

Active Lifestyle Accessories 
Maybe it’s the constant brain activity or coffee consumption, but creative types are usually active people. Whether it’s bicycling, running, hiking or globe-trotting, your recipient probably has a favorite active or outdoor activity. Whatever it is, there’s plenty of equipment and accessories that fit in a variety of budgets.

Bring the Juice
If coffee shops are chargers for creatives, then they’ll need plenty of battery power for their electronics. Mobile chargers are a must for creative professionals, because they’re always on the move and take their gadgets with them. Keep their specific needs and tastes in mind (along with your budget), and find the item that’s perfect for the creative guy or gal in your life.

Bonus: Vacation
If you really want to splurge, every creative professional we know would love a vacation! It doesn’t have to be grand; book a night at a nice hotel or a quick weekend getaway. Give a break from the routine with an experience your recipient will always remember — a spa day, sky diving adventure, swimming with sharks expedition or a trip to your recipient’s favorite author’s museum or hometown.

What ideas would you add?

Do you enjoy the gift-giving process or does it stress you out?

p.s. If you’re still stuck on what to buy the creative person in your life, let us know. We’d be happy to help you out with some suggestions — no strings attached!

p.s.s. Is your creative professional overwhelmed with work? Perhaps our marketing, writing or social media services would help. We do offer gift certificates!

CCC’s CCO (Chief Creative Officer),
Jaime

Let’s chat (about gifts for creatives, your marketing needs or otherwise):
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Customer Experience: Starbucks Shows How It’s Done

Loyal readers of this blog know that I’m an espresso lover and Starbucks fan. Despite being a longtime, loyal customer, I do run into problems with the coffee behemoth once in awhile, like you will with any brand. What matters most is how your favorite brands resolve these occasional issues.

Starbucks logo on coffee sleeve

The famous twin-tailed mermaid, or Siren, makes me smile.

Earlier this week, I decided to run to my local Starbucks to grab lunch. In the midst of a chaotic day, I ordered a deli sandwich via Mobile Order & Pay in the Starbucks app. Upon arriving, I learned that the sandwich I had ordered was sold out.

The barista apologized and let me know what other sandwiches the store had and reminded me of the newly available (in our area) Bistro Boxes. I decided on another sandwich that I had been debating on ordering anyway, and my revised order was quickly filled.

The same barista, who took control of my situation, didn’t charge me the additional cost of my new order and promptly gave me two $4 coupons for future use. The best part was that I was still in and out of the store in 3-4 minutes so I stayed on schedule.

The substituted sandwich was delicious and paired nicely with my second latte of the day I brewed when I was back in my office (with Starbucks coffee, of course). Instead of leaving the Starbucks store peeved and empty-handed, the barista made sure that I walked away with a positive experience despite the hiccup.

How do your favorite brands handle the occasional hiccup?

Always drinking (or thinking about) espresso,
Jaime

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A Modern Marketer (with an Old School Soul): Things I Carry

As a modern marketer with an old school soul, what kind of things do I carry?

Things I Carry

Things I carry — as a modern marketer (with an old school soul)

Staying Connected

  • Mini Tablet — This little guy keeps me connected while I’m on the go. It’s powerful enough to stream videos, manage multiple social media accounts and drive me around the World Wide Web, but small enough to fit in my bag.
  • Smartphone (not pictured) — How did we live without smartphones? The 5″ HD display brings videos, photos and messages into clear view while the lightweight and slim design is perfect for my small hands. The 4G network keeps me connected, and the 13 MP main camera takes professional pics when I need them. Late last year, I picked up a cover with a kickstand, which provides the protection I need with the slim fit I like. (The two inside pockets are perfect for your ID, credit card or business card.) UPDATE

Power Up

  • Portable Charger —  This lightweight portable charger keeps my smartphone and tablet juiced. The 2600mAh battery provides up to 12 hours of extra power, and is recharged by USB. Micro USB cord included.
  • Water Bottle — It’s amazing how much better your brain works when you’re hydrated. Make it easy to drink enough water by carrying a refillable water bottle with you. This 20 oz bottle includes an internal screen, so you can infuse your water with fruit (without plugging up your straw), and infuse your day with energy.
  • Starbucks Gold Card — Some days, it’s my sanity. As a small business owner, life can be stressful, but handcrafted espresso can make the worst day OK again. Plus, being Gold has its rewards. (I was going to include my battered Starbucks reusable cup, but this looks so much better.)

Kicking It Old School

  • Felt Tip Pen — While I love my gadgets, there’s nothing quite like putting pen to paper. Blog posts, marketing plans and social media strategy all come to life in spiral-bound notebooks with these glorious pens. And there’s something so elegant about writing with a felt tip…
  • (Paper) Business Cards — Yes, everyone’s online these days. So am I. But there’s still something about handing someone (prospect? connector? life-changer?) a physical business card. You’re giving someone a little piece of yourself, a physical reminder of your brand, the business that you’ve sweated and agonized over. It’s amazing what can come from a 3.5″ x 2″ (or thereabouts) piece of paper.
  • A Book — As a writer, I read a lot. I like to have a fiction and non-fiction book going at the same time, which helps me to tackle my two-page (and ever-growing) reading list. So far in 2015, I’ve devoured books on personal branding and entrepreneurship, the power of creativity, changing the way you think and life, love and loss. Reading is an integral part of who I am, so I always try to carry a book (or books) with me.

Odds and Ends

  • Big Red Slim Pack™ — A doctor once told me that I show 9 out of the 10 signs of becoming a chain smoker. How refreshing! So I chain-chew Big Red gum instead. Not any gum, Big Red. I love the cinnamon flavor, and fresh breath is always a good thing. The slim pack is convenient, sliding in my bag or back pocket.
  • Eyeglasses — I’m visually inspired and impaired. My glasses help me see clearly, so I can help others communicate clearly. My Tory Burch frames project a bit of professionalism, so I can play the part.
  • Sunglasses — I’m light sensitive, so I never leave the house or office without sunglasses. In fact, I keep 3 pairs sitting next to my bag, just in case.
  • Lotion — Along with the aforementioned sunglasses, I rarely am without lotion. My dry skin isn’t helped by living in Siberia half the year. So there’s always lotion — in my bag, work bag, car and all over my house.
  • Italian Roots — I’m proud of my Italian heritage, and it helps me every day. I’ve needed a thick skin, indomitable will and fighting nature to climb the ladder in corporate America, start my own business and step out of my comfort zone. And yes, I talk with my hands, so get over it. 😉

Bag It

  • Coach Travel Flight Tablet Bag — The first time I saw this bag, it was love at first sight. Whether flying around the world or around town, I have everything I need at my fingertips without being weighed down. Plus, my hands are free to tweet, message, blog or carry my espresso. And the camo? For a country girl, that’s just a little slice of heaven.


What do you carry?

Leave a list in the comments below or upload your pictures to social media and tag us!

What do you think of what I carry?

Cheers,
Jaime

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Love — and Marketing — is in the air!

Holiday marketing: you either love it or hate it. As a consumer, it’s nice to take advantage of a sale, but as a marketer, it can get downright embarrassing. How many more car commercials about President’s Day sales that have no tie-in to the brand can we watch?

Love -- and coffee -- is in the air at Starbucks!

Love — and coffee — is in the air at Starbucks!

Some brands get holiday promotions right, and it may not be ones with a readily available tie-in at first glance. For example, Starbucks has decided to hold the world’s largest date on February 13th. The worldwide coffee giant is serving a special pairings menu at participating cafes for you and your beloved. Don’t have a beloved? No worries, the company has partnered with Match.com, so you can find that special someone. As a place where people come to meet, this partnership is genius, although I never would have told you that before. Kudos to Starbucks for understanding its brand and consistently finding new ways to grow.

Durex Valentine's Day ad

Durex delivers a tongue-in-cheek message to its competitors.

A couple of years ago, I stumbled across the above ad from Durex around Father’s Day. The world’s number one condom brand has a history of bold, tongue-in-cheek advertising. Durex takes its products seriously. Itself? Not so much. Considering what its product is intended to do, the company may not ever come up with a better ad.

Chime in with Love (or Hate)

What brand’s holiday-related marketing do you love?

Do you find yourself looking at marketing as a consumer vs. marketer/business professional?

Any fun Valentine’s Day plans?

Share the marketing love,
Jaime

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Branding Is A Feeling, Not A Noun

Branding. It’s all the rage, but what is it exactly? According to Merriam-Webster, branding is the promoting of a product or service by identifying it with a particular brand. Of course, there’s as many definitions of branding as there are flavors of chewing gum.

These are just a few of the brands who have connected with me.

A few of my favorite things — Starbucks espresso, Chuck Taylor shoes and Merona socks.

I’ll make it easy though. Branding is a feeling you create in people, an emotion. It’s the way that seeing a Starbucks cafe makes me smile. Sure, I’m an espresso junkie, but that’s not the only reason I love Starbucks. It’s the atmosphere in the company’s cafes, the best reward program in the industry. It’s my personal Starbucks cup, paying with my phone and earning stars, all while doing what I love — drinking espresso.

It’s the same type of connection I have with Big Red gum, New Balance running shoes, Sharpie markers, PaperMate Flair pens and so on. When I use these products, they evoke a special feeling in me. When I chew other gum or write with another brand of pen, it’s just not the same. (As a writer, I’m serious about my writing instruments!)

The Garth Brooks brand has a loyal fan here!

17 years ago, Garth put a kid from an unincorporated village 10 rows from the stage, convincing me that dreams do come true. Almost 17 years later, the love affair continues.

And then there’s Garth. It’s not just my country roots or my cowboy brother who turned me onto his music. When you go watch Garth Brooks perform, it’s an experience, not just a concert. And 17 long years ago, he signed this fan up for life with a gesture that he repeated over and over again. He took the time to look at his show from his fans’ point of view and came up with ways to make their experience even better. And this fan will never forget it.


Brand You

What are your favorite brands?

How did they make a special connection with you?

As a brand, how can you connect with customers?

Cheers,
Jaime

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Tweet Some Love, Gain Some Respect

We all have them in our lives. A babysitter that’s always available when you really need a night out. A loyal friend who’s willing to interrupt her day to hear your latest crisis over coffee. A lifelong customer who loves your business’ story. A super fan who engages with and shares your content more than you do. People who just make your world turn a little easier. Now there’s a cool, new way to thank them.

Starbucks continues to embrace the digital realm and social media by partnering with Twitter to introduce tweet-a-coffee. After quickly connecting your Starbucks and Twitter accounts, you can easily send your loyal friend, awesome customer or super fan a $5 eGift card. Seriously, it’s that easy.

As a business owner, I immediately thought of some priceless opportunities for brands. Giveways? You no longer need to retrieve a winner’s physical address to mail swag, just a Twitter handle. Thanking loyal fans (and customers)? It’s easy on your end but is appreciated by the recipient. Your fans and customers will enjoy being publicly recognized for their loyalty, contribution to your digital marketing efforts and fabulous ideas. In turn, your business receives positive PR and the warm, fuzzy feeling associated with being good corporate citizens. And don’t forget about acknowledging employees!

I had to try this new service, so I tweeted a coffee to one of Clearly Conveyed Communications‘s super fans, Lance Wyllie. Lance is always willing to engage in thoughtful conversation, add insightful comments to discussions (on the blog and Twitter) and is so generous with sharing others’ information.

The process couldn’t have been easier. After quickly connecting my Starbucks and Twitter accounts, I sent a personalized message to @tweetacoffee to @LanceWyllie (as seen above). Starbucks’ @Tweetacoffee account immediately tweeted Lance a clickable link to redeem his eGift card (which can be scanned from your smartphone or printed out). On the back end, Starbucks sent me a receipt confirming my purchase and separately emailed me when Lance viewed the gift. A seamless process.

It’s always exciting when a new tool becomes available to add to your marketing mix. Just remember: tweet some love, gain some respect.

How can you or your business utilize tweet-a-coffee?

Who would you tweet-a-coffee to?

Tweets from my (@jaimeshine) Twitter feed
Tweet-a-Coffee video courtesy of Starbucks

An espresso addict (and Starbucks fan),
Jaime

p.s. As an espresso addict, it’s hard for me to fathom people who don’t drink espresso or coffee. Rest assured, Starbucks offers tea, fruit juices, water, fresh bakery items, delicious breakfast sandwiches and oatmeal, among other favorites, for all of you non-coffee folks out there. 

p.s.s. To help spread the word, Starbucks is giving a $5 eGift card to the first 100,000 people who participate in the tweet-a-coffee program before 11/06/13 and fund the purchase with a Visa card. Full details here.

Coffee lover or not, connect with me… 
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Should Brands Get Political?

Brands are encouraged today to be living, breathing entities with values and to form relationships with customers. Is it any surprise then that some have jumped into politics?

An Obama campaign decal next to the Apple logo on a user's laptop.

In 2012, Apple Inc. spent $1.97 million on lobbying and contributed $620,929 in campaign donations to both political parties.* Should brands get political?

I realized recently that this topic has entered the mainstream conversation when an iconic brand wanted to explain to the public why it did NOT want to jump into the political fray. Starbucks ceo Howard Schultz wrote an open letter explaining why the company did not want its cafes to be battlegrounds in the hotly contested gun control debate. Honestly? Starbucks would just love for you to meet friends or a client at one of its cafes and have some coffee — not picket or protest.

“I am proud of our country and heritage of civil discourse and debate. It is in this spirit that we make today’s request. Whatever your view, I encourage you to be responsible and respectful of each other as citizens and neighbors.” –Howard Schultz, Starbucks ceo

On the other hand, some brands have decided to jump in and announce their views to the world. Last year, Chick-fil-A made headlines with its views on gay marriage rights, which led to passionate responses on both sides of the aisle. Those opposing gay marriage scheduled ‘Chick-fil-A Appreciation Days” to support the company while gay rights advocates called for a boycott. Eager to remove itself from the controversy, the company issued a statement saying it would “leave the policy debate over same-sex marriage to the government and political arena” going forward.

Join the Discussion

Should brands get involved with politics? Or take stands on hotly debated issues?

What’s your take?

Photo courtesy of swiperbootz via a Creative Commons License
*Apple statistics courtesy of Ethical Consumer
Starbucks ceo Howard Schultz’s open letter available at starbucks.com
Chick-fil-A quote via Wikipedia  

Cheers,
Jaime

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The Art of Branding

Branding is a buzz word today, so everyone wants to drop it like the name of the hottest new rapper out there. While it’s overused and abused, it’s still an instrumental element to companies and people everywhere.

“Good brands are able to set the tone, create the scene, and make us a part of it all.”  –Danny Trizio

We’re all brands, you and me, Apple and Google. Living, breathing entities that customers and fans connect with, get to know and enter into relationships with. Sound strange? OK, think about why you buy an iPhone instead of another smartphone or why you choose Google over Bing. It may be a subconscious choice, but it’s not likely random.

Apple ad

Apple has designed a brand with staying power.

Of course, some brands get it more than others. The aforementioned Apple is one of the strongest brands alive today, and this is coming from an Android fan. I came across a blog post by Danny Trizio, marketing campaign manager at Proforma, touching on why Apple ‘gets it,’ so I’ll let him explain.

Along with the tech icon, another brand who forges a deep bond with customers is ABSOLUT. (Full disclosure: I am a customer!) I previously offered a toast to this icon for its fine take on branding.

ABSOLUT UNIQUE

One of a kind, millions of expressions…
ABSOLUT UNIQUE

Keep in mind that it’s not only industry leaders who can develop strong brands. While I’m a fan (and heavy user) of Starbucks, I also love our local spot, Angel Falls Coffee Company. It’s located in a neighborhood with a unique flavor that loves to support mom and pop shops. Angel Falls embraces its role as a local favorite, with an eclectic spot that welcomes you in to play some checkers, discuss current events or people watch while enjoying its brew (and a delicious, fresh out of the oven baked good).

So how can I bond with two brands in the same industry? First, as previously noted on this blog, I’m an espresso addict. Second, I patronize both of these companies on different occasions. I love to walk to Angel Falls to enjoy a steaming GingerBeast (relax, it’s only a gingerbread latte) while catching up with a friend or gazing out the front picture window, lost in thought.

Starbucks is a different breed. It’s everywhere, so I can stop in for a mouth-watering soy hazelnut macchiato, breakfast sandwich or old fashioned glazed doughnut whenever I want. The breakfast sandwiches are available all day, so it’s perfectly OK if I want breakfast for dinner or am really slow moving on a lazy Sunday. I can meet business associates or customers there to discuss projects while enjoying the breeze on the patio. One of the main reasons I became a Starbucks fan is the company’s prevalence in airports. I could grab an espresso and Perfect Oatmeal (which fits neatly on top of a lidded Starbucks cup, by the way) en route to my connecting flight at 7am. Haven’t we all been there?!

Now that I’m not traveling so much, I find that I love hitting up my local Starbucks, which makes every effort to fit into the community. Its baristas are some of the happiest people I see all day, the atmosphere is conducive to thinking (which I like to do) and this coffee giant’s reward program is phenomenal. I was pretty excited when I received my gold card in the mail this week. Brightened up my Monday!

Follow my take on my favorite brands on Pinterest

Chime In

So, who are some of your favorite brands? Who ‘gets’ the power of branding?

Did I miss the boat on any brand I referenced above? Who did I miss?

Let your voice be heard!

(Oh, and I’d be remiss not to mention my favorite brand, Clearly Conveyed Communications.)

Apple ad courtesy of Apple, Inc
ABSOLUT UNIQUE photo courtesy of ABSOLUT US

Cheers,
Jaime

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