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Ricardo Ramos Lazcano

Brand Journey

5 Brands. 5hr Delay. AIRPORT Survival-kit.

John F. Kennedy International Airport, JFK, (Idlewild Airport); here the TWA Flight Center, terminal 5, designed by Eero Saarinen – 1969

Your flight is delayed,  your stuck at the airport, there is nothing to do, there is nothing to see.
Knowing what Brands to go-to, can save your sanity. (trust me)

Here are My TOP 5 Brands to keep you sane at the Airport.

We’ve all been there once.
You arrive at the airport early, of course, just to find out that your flight has a 5hr delay. Who would have  known your planning would slap you in the face.

5 Hours in a terminal is a long time to spend with yourself, so before a  Spiral of madness goes your way…  take advantage of the hidden treasure-Brands that exist at the airport.

There are few moments of frustration that compare to being stuck at the airport on a delay, and, I’ve had my fair share of them. Which is why I’ve learned to tap-on the power of 5 brands I usually find at any airport gate.

A Brand you love can trigger feelings of nostalgia and strong happy memories in the worst moments. Brands can become a self-medication in moments of stress.

Brands hold the power to change our airport mood. Here are my top 5 mood-changers at the Airport.

1. Cold Brew @ Starbucks Coffee 
My first move is to search for the mini-Starbucks corner, for two main reasons. I need a quick caffeine fix which flavor I can trust and as a Brand Strategist, I enjoy looking at the design differences in the You are here collection of mugs. A.k.a my version of Where is Waldo.

Brand Feeling: Supported

2. Magazines Section @ Hudson News
A usually locate a Hudson News store as soon as I walk into my Gate. The reason is simple, their vast selection of magazines and paperback books. I go in to browse for interesting trends of the moment , I can usually get at least one idea/insight for a strategy I’m working on…. and of course some gossip never hurts.

Brand Feeling: Inspired

3. CITY Treats @ Souvenirs Shops
Ok you are right, this in not a named Brand… But thing about it. Every souvenir shop has its version of whatnots and nicknacks related to the city your in and a city IS a Brand. Even if the are mostly made in china, looking at this ugly-cool souvenirs is a guilty pleasure of mine. Take a look at the city’s snow-globe font choices or the strange color-combos and laugh a little of this “Brands” – note the quotation marks.

Brand Feeling: Charmed

4. Facial and Massage @ Xpress Spa
Aaaah, there is no better way to burn some hours than with some well deserved you-time at any Xpress Spa . I love treating myself and releasing the delay-stress at this mini-spa.  Its nice to know that I can find them at most gates in the US and if you get the full facial you can use the massage chair at no cost, they even let you stay longer than usual. Thats enough for me to become a Brand Loyal.

Brand Feeling: Calmed

5. Lunch & Drinks @ The Centurion Lounge
 If you are a frequent flyer I recommend applying for an American Express card. I know its an extra cost, but think of it as an investment. When you become a platinum member, REAL PERKS start pouring in. And there is no better perk than the Centurion Lounge you can find at most international airports. You walk in and immediately feel like a VIP at a 5 star New York Hotel.

Brand Feeling: Empowered

Think of Brands as happy pills.

I bet you have your favorite treat to go-to or favorite movie to watch, that lifts your spirit. Well, now start thinking about what Brand makes you feel better. When you are feeling down go to the ones you know you love!

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Inspirational Branding

GOLD in RIO

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City Branding
How do you make every feature of a city fit into one Brand? A Brand that must truly portray a city kaleidoscope of identities?

You must take what glimmers the strongest and truly evokes GOLD, and transform that into a Brand. Rio is known as the city of golden beaches,  golden tans and golden bodies … and now Golden Dreams.

Olympic days are here and with them comes a million messages. Messages from Brands,  advertisers, media and of course the new golden heroes.

As far as it goes, the message that will shine the brightest, would be that of RIO. All eyes, after all, are fixed in this city for 17 days. For 17 days, all strategists will fix their eyes on the city’s Branding. A Branding that promises its own type of golden-dream.

After all, branding a city for the Olympics might be the hardest project a Brand Strategist can get. How do you make every feature of a city fit into one Brand? A Brand that must truly portray a city kaleidoscope of messages?

A City’s Olympic Brand must represent both a unique message and the evergreen feel of the city. And the best representation of the Olympics brand you’ll find in its bronze, silver, and GOLDEN MEDAL design.

RIO’s Olympic’s got it right. A kaleidoscope of colors for the strap, ending with a simple design for the medal.
If I were to create a City’s Olympic Brand, I would travel to the City and live its Brand first hand.
Turns out, that when I visited Rio, in just one week I fell in love with it.  This is why I’m mesmerized of how its Olympic Medals truly portray every shade of the speedo-filled City, its colors, its people, but above all, It’s every shade of filling you experience there.
So next time you visit Rio, think of me. Explore it like you would analyze a Brand, think of its color palette, it’s tile layouts, it’s retro vibe and evergreen grand hotels.
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Inspirational Branding

FOOD is a lifestyle. a POP accessory

Dashing Brand Club – M.I.L.F. $

FOOD is not a COMMODITY … Food is a BRAND, Food is a STORY, Food is a LIFESTYLE. 

In the past few years, Food has passed from being a commodity to becoming a Lifestyle and a part of the consumer’s personality. Consumers used to substitute one product from another disregarding its Brand altogether.

Today, FOOD is a LIFESTYLE choice. A choice that holds intrinsic values that make food the new POP accessory.

YEAH you know where I was going with this…  Fergie new video M.I.L.F.$  with hunk male model Jon Kortajarena shows us that FOOD (Milk in this case) can be POP culture element touching on mischief lifestyle values.

Fergie‘s play on Milk, gives it new lifestyle values.  Storytelling of this caliber can motivating consumers and drive them towards your product. This new identity, relates directly to the consumers way of life. Food Products must create a culture that embodies the interest, attitude, and opinion of a specific group of people.

Fergie M.I.L.F. $

food brands need to LOOK FOR A TRIBE 

Lifestyle brands carry with them powerful universal values or stories that are instantly recognizable by a unique tribe of consumers. The key would be to shift the products values. Values the Brand holds at its core. Repurpose this values, into a new set of ideas and lifestyle that represent certain qualities or meanings to the tribe-consumer. 

Consumers seek and consciously choose products on personality and self-values.

Instagram is now becoming the favorite connecting platform to Lifestyle Brands In 2014 alone, three million interactions were created between Instagram users and more than 2,500 direct messages to Brand Accounts. That’s 111.6 million of lifestyle-seeking consumers.

Instagram is the best platform for brands that want to interact with their consumers and showcase a LIFESTYLE surrounding their Brand. No wonder Fergie’s finale on her M.I.L.F.$  video is the perfect screenshot of her Instagram profile.

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Inspirational Branding

FRANKEN-COPY: A Monster of Hospitality Branding

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It’s alive! IT’S ALIVE! It’s… The Frankencopy.
A mismatch creature of keywords, sentences and concept paragraphs taken from others – a Copywriting Monster.

~ Just like Dr.Frankenstein built his creature in his laboratory, with methods of mix knowledge, this FrankenCopy creature can be created by interpreting and re-purposing different copy fragments.

Your LAB then would be a mixed of content media, books, magazines and of course the vast web.

~ How the Monster got created:
Breaking out into a new sector of branding is no piece of cake, or shall I say… It’s not a no-brainer (get it?).
Bad joke aside, I’ve  recently transferred from the Food & Wine Sector onto the Hospitality & Travel branding world. Let me tell you, HOTELS are the hardest Brands to create and positioning a new Concept for.

Mi usual Branding tricks were proving flat and plain for Hotel Brands; then I learned about the FrankenCopy method.

~ Simple logic… to clip and cut pieces of copy from the type of Brands you want your Hotel to feel like (say a Luxury Vodka). Repeat. Repeat. And repeat once more the copy-cutting technique and awe at your copy monster of copywriting chunks. The final step is to make sense of it… tweak, find synonyms, change the tone of voice.  After this steps, you’ll get the best new-inspired version of a concept that fits your client.

~ I used to say a Brand is a Brand, so the same Branding strategies should apply-to-all. I couldn’t have been more wrong.

Hotel Business is the must cut-throat business, competitive as hell, hotels keep appearing and they all use the same concept of new-luxury and lifestyle feel. No wonder why the need for a differentiating positioning is much needed.

~ Get the townsmen (clients) ready  and FRANKEN-COPY the hell out of your concept presentation!

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Inspirational Branding

Soundtracks & Jingles: A Guilty Pleasure

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If you look at my Spotify playlist and you are a Music fan then you might get a heart attack. Simply because most of my music is a big mix of movie soundtracks, movie albums and a lot of Commercial Brand jingles.

Why? Good Question …

Picture someone in the R train heading Downtown, super pumped with the music he’s hearing, casually dancing to the beat and the occasionally intense lip singing. That is me, only I’m not hearing “Work” from Rihanna. I’m probably listening to “OREO Wonderfilled” by Owl City.

A total guilty pleasure… you are right. I can’t help it, I always let the Brand Strategist inside me take over. I know I should be listening to the latest hit, but I can’t help to address my obsession with STORY and switch to a track like A Little Less Conversation by JXL/Elvis reminding me of that Iconic first iPod commercial.

STORY is what drives Productive-Daydreaming, and that’s what I really I’m addicted to.

Once I start playing on this Dashing Brand’s playlist, my mind starts to wonder and starts to connect ideas and great moments in marketing-storytelling. Connections that can help develop Insights easier.

The other day I was listening to the new “Candyman” by Zedd & Aloe Blacc created for  M&M’S 75th Anniversary, and it got me thinking about the new ways Brands are connecting to our fast-paced lifestyles. Sensory experiences are no longer enough. Brands need to dig deeper and actually touch and inspire our psyche , that extra-sensory emotion that drives our behavior.

Thanks to this playlist my initial ideas of a Sensory Brand Tour evolved to a Anima Brand Tour.

So, here it is  The Dashing Brand Club playlist:

(Add Your Guilty Brand Tracks!)

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Inspirational Branding

A very Branded: Cover Letter

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A Branded Cover Letter must have: An original Concept + a new perspective + a new Idea.

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Dear Reader, aka [Insert Agency/Company Name].

This is supposed to be my cover letter where I say a bunch of good things about myself; give many praises to you and your Brand and show how much I’m already onboard with the team and Brand.
Yeah, sorry… that is just not me.. I can do better, so bare with me as I write away on this page as one of my online Articles.

Chez Brand
I was just finishing a concept development project about Insights; (what are they, why are they important and how to get them) when through the research I stumbled upon the interesting idea of Intentional Serendipity; where one is aware of its own ability to force ideas and start the linking method of the Insight.

Thankfully NYC offers many places where we are surrounded by ideas from the past and present and force Serendipity. After two years living in the city I can truly say, Insights sneak-up on you, even if you are not seeking them; the key is to link this associations and develop an Idea.


What if there was an Insight-condensed place, specifically created for Brands? What if there was a place where Brand Strategist could go to get multiple Brand Insights at once?

For the sake of the argument, let’s call it The Brand House (Chez Brand- if we wanna get European); not a museum, but a house; where Brands become alive and interact; where you get to step into[Insert Agency/Company Name]’s bedroom and see, feel what the brand is about.

Don’t you think it’s about time someone created Chez Brand.
There is so much thought, passion and inspiration behind every Brand; it must be celebrated and we must be allowed to be immersed in it. Think about the awe and thrill you get by understanding a concept behind any historical Brand.

As Brand Strategist one of our jobs is to enhance the source of inspiration and create tools to manifest the Brand’s values and personality. We search for the best moment our consumer interact with our Brand, and if that is a made-up place which help shape our experience, then let’s manifest it! What better way to inspire our consumers and peers alike.


For me, Brand Strategy is not a gallery or a private club; it’s more like a cabaret, a Carnevale; an organized chaos. We create an ongoing experience with every element. Nothing is more vulnerable than letting our consumer encounter and be inspired by our true Brand Personality. I would be delighted to be considered and become part of your everyday Brand.

—-

From me to you: Always aim for originality! Remember recruiters see hundreds of Cover Letters every day.

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Inspirational Branding

Branding tips from CANDY store BRANDS

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Admit it, we all get strangely excited when we walk into a candy store; even if you just pass by, we all get kid jitters looking at the beautifully colored packaging, neatly arranged sugar treats and vibrant typefaces.

Candy Store’s, may they be a boutique or not, are a delight for branding elements.
It’s not easy for a product to stand out, much less between a kaleidoscope of design and every branding element idea there is.

These guilty-pleasure Candy Brands, not just incite nostalgic feelings; they are evergreen Brands that are constantly evolving in styles and seem to get stronger in the fight of relevance within this new health conscious world.

Think about Brands like Dylan’s Candy Bar, Sockerbit, Baked by Melissa or Sugarfina. Think on how you feel when you walk inside the store… Oh Sweetland. A wonderland of  linking insights happening all around us. The key is to understand those links of style-concept ideas and link them to your Brand Objectives and Strategies.

Just the other day I gave myself a treat of Baked by Melissa’s signature mini-cupcake tie-dye. It’s a peculiar design for a cupcake in NY so I decided to research its story; turns out it’s inspired after a Rock Band “Grateful Dead” and the memorabilia around it. How cool is that!

It definitely is still, a sweet CANDYLAND of Brands, and it doesn’t seem to be getting slower anytime soon. We go to them when we need a pick me up, need to celebrate, need a little sweet push to get through the day; all to remind us of sweeter better times.

 

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Inspirational Branding

Presentation or Booklet

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Stuck in a world of Keynote/Powerpoint Presentations?

I bet you’ve heard it over and over again… It’s just a presentation.
No other 4 words  frustrate me more than this.

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It’s easy to confuse presentation projects with just being a simple non-design document, and it’s understandable (to a point) when clients wonder why they are paying so much for just a presentation… if they only wanted the design.

Yet, it’s a known fact that Brand Strategist main working tool is Keynote (PPT), it’s our job to shape a concept and develop a structured. We must come up with a storytelling-flow capable of charming even the pickiest clients/creative directors.

I hope you agree with me, it is not a presentation it’s a Full Concept Development Booklet.

Booklets with new layouts each round to be presented successfully. We must put into word and visuals, abstract concepts. Imagining the easiest most powerful way to tell a story that allows everybody to understand the concept. A booklet; developed to enhance the value of the strategy.

These presentations, as our colleagues/clients call them, are created to be the start of the conversation and the upcoming brand strategy, they will be the base for creative briefs and copywriting. That is why as Brand Strategist, we must give them (and communicate) the value they own already.

Embrace this tool and call it by another name; project-pdf, concept-presentation or borrow mine and call it a Concept Development Booklet.

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Inspirational Branding

The Anatomy of an Insight

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We tend to think having an Insight is for the lucky few. Our mind links this word to historic geniuses and breakthrough discoveries; no wonder why it can be such an intimidating word.

 So, what is an insight?
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Definitely not a new question, but one that has got a recent traction in the business world (I thank all creativity for business books in 2015). When you research the word, your search most likely will take you to two known phrases, the Eureka and the AHA Moment. Which sound like phrases out of a Harry Potter movie, a charm to help you conjure the mythical Insight.

On this note, Eat Pray Love author Elizabeth Gilbert gave an amazing TED talk about this strange divinity.  She talks about a possible supernatural force that enters your  body and gives you moment of enlightenment that pushes you to create in that very moment.

Business and theorists alike haven’t quite grasped the structure of it. What would an Insight even look like? And most important, can it be dissected in order to understand it?

After doing some studying and lots of book reading. I’ve come up with a plausible anatomy of an Insight.

1 ContentInformation you value (Books you read, Movies you watch, the News you pay attention to, etc).

2 ProfessionThe education, training, and unique skills you have (Studies you have, the position you are in, Your expertise in business, etc).

3 Delight Experiences that captivate and entertain you ( Your Hobby, your Passion, Your Guilty pleasure, etc).

It’s a three-parter. Three sides of something that converge and create this unique thing. If it were a human-known shape, it would definitely be a PRISM.

A prism is by definition, a refracting triangular form. A form where angles and sides interact with each other. Crystal, but once you shine a bit of light on it, you get a spectacle of lights, of colors, of beauty.

That is what an Insight is. A spectrum of colors that converged from three surfaces you can master.They Key is to stay aware, in order to catch a ray of light that will make your prism shine.

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