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Dashing Brands

The future of Creativity is DATA

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I couldn’t pass the opportunity of writing after this two articles hit the web this past week.
There is no hiding the fact that A.I within the marketing space is both scary and exiting.
A.I creativity can both damage and enhance our sector.
IBM’s A.I Watson computer has jumped from market to market, using extensive data to make accurate business-choices that once were only done by top strategists and data analysts.
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Within different subject lines, Adweek and GQ managed to pinpoint on a once semi-underground subjects.
The power of DATA.
The sign of a FAD becoming a TREND is when mainstream magazines like Adweek and GQ make it a subject line on a news piece.  Articles like this become code for every strategist to say “Should we be doing that too?”
It’s through this amplified media I predict we’ll get more examples of data used for creativity that we should keep our eyes on.
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I’m sure you were as impressed as I was by the news that Amazon acquired Whole Foods.
After all why does a digital giant want with a brick and mortar niche market?
If you read Hungry for your data GQ Article, it doesn’t address the distribution power behind Whole Foods, but it talks about the power behind the DATA that the company holds. 
Whole Foods holds precious data from the real world, that the digital giant seeks and needs. A new way to understand the way to enhance both digital and store shopping is by knowing how we shop in both worlds.
This acquisition is basically foreshadowing the future of retail strategy within the digital data space.
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As strategists we must  understand how to guide our clients into a data driven creative/strategic world.
To help them navigate new data analytics softwares or services in order for these to help us develop effective strategies from day one.
What I liked about the Creative data campaigns From Data to Tada AdWeek article, is that we’ve seen a few examples of data being used for creativity, but none as amplified as the once they list.
When you get a topic to become a compendium of thoughts within an article… That’s when it gets amplified!
This data creative examples are the future of case studies we must understand and replicate for the future of our clients.
Data is knowledge, and Knowledge is power after all.
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Inspirational Branding

ode to the Insight

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A visionary concept found hiding at plain sight.

The INSIGHT,
an elusive ghost.
A myth, a spirit,
a morning fog that arrives as easily as it escapes.

A matter for the Gods,
a spiritual guide of the masterminds.
It is within the Insight that we make the intangible, tangible.

Easy to see it as a bygone gift reserved for the creative few, the lucky ones who’ve shouted through it, eureka!

We keep encountering tools that guarantee success if the process and steps are blindly followed.
We keep finding inspirational tools that over promise aiding our strategy with pointless exercises.

We keep loosing ourselves as we use this so called miracle methods, only to find ourselves back to square one and with no new Insight in mind.

Have we become eternal idea-daydreamers?
Have insights become a mere word with no relative meaning?

Getting this spark of inspiration is easier said than done.
It comes down to you, your knowledge, your ability to connect ideas, but most important… It comes down to the contrasting lifestyles you experience.

We constantly seek new inspiration,
new products,
new design,
new concepts.

Our never-ending look for Brand concepts that will awe our creative minds and ignite the spark we so desperately seek lies within the Anatomy of the insight.

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Brand Journey

Will fictional Characters inspire more Brand Strategy ideas?

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We’ve seen the Instagram stories, the filtered insta-worthy posts and read about it on every lifestyle web magazine out-there. Its SOLD OUT, lets talk about it.

Starbucks unicorn flavored Frapuccino is a Brand move we’ll be talking about for years.

Call it a craze, a stunt, a sugar-rush on steroids, Starbucks marketing move has been a mass success.

Lets just get passed all the social chat about the over sugary taste, its magical powder and its cute rainbow unicorn colors.

What we should be talking about, is Starbucks’ swift insight development moves or how quickly they take on social trends to reinterpret and adapt it into a new commercial move.

Starbucks is no stranger to taking on trends and striking gold from them, last year they hit us with the popular secret menu’s Pink Drink and this year they’re officially adding it to their summer menu.  Capitalize again on the now evergreen Millennial Pink trend.

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This was a very clear take on a trend of rainbow foods and unicorn interpreted concoctions perfectly listed by Well + Good earlier this year.

Just as David Butler said in his book Design to Grow, back in 2015 the only way we can respond to a fast-changing market is a quick response to trends with a quick insight development strategy.

“Combining the advantages of scale with [the momentum of] agility”.

We’ve certainly seen co-branding food related actions in the past with know tv/film characters, like my personal favorite, last years Capn Crunch and Kith Treats partnership. Partnership who took our nostalgic devotion for the sugary cereal and applied it to our Urban Apparel weakness.

2_bb44dde0-f3e0-4cd3-bc6e-4a31bdc2a050_1160x.progressiveIt is no secret that Nostalgia plays a powerful role in moving social trends.

From our favorite childhood colors (that we no longer dare to ware) to endearing fictional characters we befriended (and secretly still adore) and the fully colorful sugary sweets be devoured (and still do when we are down).

Our favorite fictional heroes are back to lift our spirits once more.

Hopefully inspiring our imagination and concept strategies like last holiday season’s COACH “REXY” the dinosaur, who inspired creative co-brandings like Coach x Colette Kid’s urban collection.

We must look for inspiration amongst these nostalgic characters and elements first had, be ready when these social insights appear and act quickly to adapt our Brand Strategies before the trend dries out.

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Follow the Rabbit

DBC’s new identity has me thinking: Where did the CONCEPT go?

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Where has the value for market research and consumer insights go to?
How is it that clients and agencies alike are giving less thought to this first and (to my humble opinion) most important step for any Brand Strategy.
 DBC_mockupaka – THE BRAND CONCEPT 

Crunched times, hard deadlines, small budgets…  All clearly affecting the “concept”. But NONE of these is an excuse to jump this key strategic process!

Ok Ok … I agree I have to think of the man/woman behind the Brand or Account.
Brand Owners, we shall call them, are the experts behind their strategy. Owners that of course (and rightly so) have revenue and ROI’s in their mind.

Safe to assume, the first thing that pops into their mind when you dare say the words concept are:

“How long will it take”
“How much will it cost me”
“We don’t need a concept for this part”my personal nightmare

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While starting to redesign The Dashing Brand Club ’s new identity, I didn’t have to start from scratch, wonder what direction I was going to take or worst, just seeing if I can come up with something good out of nothing.

All I had to do was, check the Brand’s initial concept document where a clear defined personality and Brand values were established Proving that a well thought concept is an effective way to reshape a Brand’s new identity without the risk of loosing a Brand direction

Concepts are of the same value to strategies, as the Adobe Suite is to Graphic Design.

Is not a matter of time.. is the creative toolBrand Strategists use to create.

postersDBCOur Brand creative-thinking comes from the insights we develop during the concept making process.

What is best for the Brand, what is good for the Brand, what does this brand even look like?
Are questions answered only through a clear CONCEPT.

The only side I’m with, is the Brand’s side. I can’t help It… it’s even in my professional title Brand Strategist.
I believe I can even come up with a creed:

Thou shall create a strategy that expresses and fulfills the Brand’s Creative Concept as well as its Strategic Business needs.

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Inspirational Branding

From an existential crisis to BRAND ZEN in 48hrs

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I won’t say it was easy, but it definitely felt like an awakening. A true serendipity moment.  A set of events aligned to achieve a creative inner-peace.

IMG_7152 copyLeave it to the universe to take an existential crisis, turn it all around and create an atmosphere of creative inner-peace and Brand zen mode in just 48hrs.

IMG_7058 copyI had this anxiety feeling, for what felt like the longest time.
A couple of months overthinking your every move will take a toll on everyone’s creative being.
I second guessed myself in love, life, and work, creating a spiral of deadly words against myself each and every time.

IMG_7078 copyThe complaining and overthinking came as second nature to me and all I accomplished was to sink deeper into this quicksand of my own doing.

Day in and day out. Until that is… my very own Brand Zen moment was created.

Brand Zen is triggered by achieving a creative inner-peace.
A peace you a accomplish when you surround yourself by your true/deepest passions.

IMG_7174 copyI owe this awaking to the Rivertown Lodge Boutique Hotel in Hudson, NY.

Everything I love about design, branding and elegant decor spoke to me, all while spending a relaxed morning in the lobby’s cozy living space. Surrounded by vintage furniture of Swedish 70’s furniture and custom designed decor by Brooklyn-based Workstead studio took my mind to a tranquil state.

IMG_7063 copyThis dashing uptown escape reminded me of the reasons why I love the life I’m leading and that indeed I am steering it towards an exceptional outcome.

It took this charming place of grand stylish savoir-faire to wake my senses and evoke my love for Brands once more.

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New York City’s Kim Bucci and Ray Pirkle’s hospitality veterans channeled all my Wes Anderson-ness weakness into one uptown escape Hotel, hard to believe it’s their first one.

Rivertown Lodge bewitched me.
Its original movie theater sign from 1928, iron beddings, cherrywood walls and brass light fixture will linger in my branding-memories to come.

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Brand Journey

5 ways to slay 2017 #together

The horrors and disappointments of 2016 are over!
A new year begins.
A year that will put every fiber of our moral code to the test.

2016 was emotionally exhausting & disturbing for many.
This new year will be a challenge; we all fear what’s to come and has already started. The neglect, the hate, the phobia … feelings we thought were on the verge of extinction.

Let’s make the best & SLAY 2017 together.

1.Out, Proud and FEARLESS  

Values of unity shared within our LGBT community and our allies must prevail and shine stronger than ever.
We need more Brands that stand for and share the lifestyle that this unity represent.

As Brand Strategists it is our duty to support Brands and insight new ones who will be a product/service refuge and support for the next years to come.

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2.Trust your inner QUEEN

We need more Brands run by openly gay men and women, we need more LGBT entrepreneurs launching their ideas into the word. More than ever we need gay-lifestyle Brands that showcase how our community is and forever will be present and relevant for the future success of all Americans and this country.

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3.GLITTER BOMB everything

The LGBT community most not shut down into a sequined rainbow bubble.
We must show the world we are creative, stylish, successful and most of all-inclusive with our products and services.

Being gay has allowed us to become a cool hunting, trend-seeking, fad shading machines. 
Abilities we learned during the years we stayed in the closet, having to be aware of everything we said and used. 

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4.Look for the DASHING touch

I don’t want to say the world is not a fabulous place, but it needs more of our community’s charm and never-ending search for STYLELet’s create new brands that are ALL elegant, ALL inclusive,  ALL loving brands.

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5.Get your heels on and SLAY!

I want to do my part and promise to give our community the tools to begin their Brand journey. THE DBC this year with become your go-to for simple Brand development tools.

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Inspirational Branding

Make the Holidays INSTAGRAM-able

This Holiday Season;  consumers will not just share sweet treats,  delightful gifts and Christmas recipes…
Consumers will share their every Holiday Lifestyle moment on social media.

Your Brand needs that extra holiday-factor that can make it Instagram-worthy for their next lifestyle pic.

Users take care of every detail on their uploaded photos for Instagram.
This season is no different, it might even be the key season of sharing photos.  Every lifestyle holiday moment that could be shared with your Brand, will be shared, at home, street or holiday party.

With all the holiday shopping happening, consumers will be exposed to more products than usual. Pair that with users never ending scrolling within Instagram and you have the chance to double your online engagement and impression numbers.

Products that are winning the conversion game are helping users heighten their Social Status.
Writers Anette Asp and Steven Quartz in their  COOL book even go so far as saying this new quest for status has always shaped our modern culture and our global economy.

We know Instagram (any social media platform for that matter) is a game of status affirmation, and just as Status, Instagram lifestyle images are multidimensional.

INSTAGRAMABLE HOLIDAY Brands are dashing, unique, stylish and seductive.

Instagramable checklist:

  1. INSTA-unique
    As  Mr. Holmes Bake House’s deliciously unique pastry Cruffin and beautifully crafted floors. 
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  2.  INSTA-dashing
    As Sugarfina Luxury Candy Boutique’s handsome packaged Bento Boxes and stunning gummies to go with.
  3. INSTA-seductive
    As H.Rebel’s collaboration with @odernichtoderdoch ‘s cozy beautiful Let’s Stay At Home collection.

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  4. INSTA-stylish
    As NoHOW’s e-commerce site’s gallantly curated and attractive gift selection.


These are Brand best practices who are getting all the glory with Millennials and  the Generation Z  social profiles. After all 2015 TOP purchasing Factor for millennials are 
1# Price and 2# Packaging Design.

You still have a few days of the holidays left, make sure your Brand creates a strong photo worthy lifestyle-connection this season.

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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

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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