Spring Talks

February 25 2016

Spring is almost in the air and we are pleased to announce that Beth Taubner will be holding not one, but two talks in the UK! 

Beth will unveil TRANSFORMATIONAL BRANDING: A PSYCHOLOGICAL & REAL-WORLD APPROACH at Portas Presents. In this discussion, Beth will talk about the concepts behind this proprietary process, and how it helps individuals and companies excavate their own psychologies, belief systems and internal cultures to successfully come to market with authenticity, consciousness and power. 

Portas Presents is a platform for people and companies that are thinking about the marketplace and creativity in new and interesting ways. The event will be is held at Portas Agency on April 14th, 2016, and is a strictly invite only event.

                                                                               Image: Chris Lowell

Beth’s panel talk, PERSPECTIVES ON MAKING STILLS AND MOTION WORK, will shed light on one of the critical issues facing photographers today - how to embrace the ever-merging worlds of stills and moving images. Beth will talk about the core branding piece, along with esteemed UK panelists Photographer’s Agent James Gerrard-Jones of Wyatt-Clarke & Jones and Ross Walker, Art Buyer & Integrated Producer/Director.

The discussion will be held at The Photography Show, The NEC Birmingham, on March 22nd 2016 in the Video Theatre at 12:30 PM as part of their events program.


You can read more on both the talks on our Events page under Upcoming Events.

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A Quick Astrological Note on Michael Jackson

February 18 2016

Spike Lee’s new documentary on Showtime, Michael Jackson’s Journey from Motown to Off the Wall is a lovely love letter to Michael Jackson. The film is all about MJ’s music, and his evolution from child prodigy to fully developed and highly influential musical, dance and breakthrough performing artist.

What struck the psychological astrologer in me was how fully Michael lived out his astrology. Spike showcases a letter that the teenaged Michael wrote right before The Jacksons moved from Motown to Epic Records. The letter itself is filled with misspellings, but Michael is already totally clear about who he is. He writes: I AM MAGIC (this is his Pisces moon and rising sign speaking, dissolving boundaries, ruling dreams and the magical realms) and I AM A PERFECTIONIST (this is his hardworking, diligent, high expectations Virgo Sun speaking). His mother says, “He was born dancing.” (Pisces rules dancing, by the way, and you will find many dancers with the Sun, Ascendant, Venus or Mars in Pisces.)

Sometimes when I’m working with clients we do their chart, as it’s a map of the psyche, and can provide enormous insight into how each of us functions, what’s going on in our family background (where elements of your brand come from), and what your relationship is to the world out there. That’s super important, as we need to find the bridge from your inner world to the outer world so that you can consciously and clearly come to market. 

But back to Michael. Spike said in an interview that he would make a film that dealt only with Michael’s music, not any of the dark stuff. Thanks, Spike. The film gave me lots of pleasure and an opportunity to talk about how psychological astrology plays out.

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Beth at The Photography Show, Birmingham UK

March 19 2015

For those of you in the photo world in the UK, Beth will be speaking at The Photography Show at the NEC Birmington in Birmingham on March 24th, 2015 at 1 PM. Not only is she speaking about The Psychology of Branding Building : How to Create and Communicate your Brand, but she’s also conducting portfolio reviews on Monday, March 23rd from 1:30-4:30 PM. It's a great opportunity for photographers at all levels in the industry. Please take a look at our “Upcoming Events” page for more information and visit http://www.photographyshow.com/ for more details. Sign up for your review here. 

Hope to see you there!

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Upcoming Event | Georgetown University Alumni Webinar

September 19 2014

September 23, 2014. 12:30pm – 1:30pm EST

Join us online this Tuesday, September 23rd for Beth’s webinar on: How does your Business Become a Brand, Learn How to Discover, Define and Implement Your Brand to Gain Market Share. This presentation will be hosted by the Georgetown University Alumni Society.
Click here to register for the event.

In this inspiring and thought-provoking interactive seminar, Beth will provide a primer on brand definition. Whether you're expanding, starting out, or looking to reposition and refine your products, business, or organization, this seminar will...
     - show you how to define your brand
     - provide analysis of how other global brands successfully communicate and manage their brands
     - teach you how to thrive using your brand as the center of all you do and communicate for greater impact, happiness and success.
You will come away thinking like a brand strategist, and with some practical tools to use in looking at your own brand, no matter what business you are in.
Click here to find out more about the event.

Also be sure to check out Beth’s guest blog post on the Georgetown University Alumni Career Services Blog! It's a great intro into the webinar presentation.

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H&M, COS, & Other Stories

August 26 2014

Did any of you know that H&M has launched yet another sub-brand? I was having a meeting with two very chic photo agents, both of whom happened to be wearing the same jumpsuit (they had gone shopping together at & Other Stories on Regent Street in London, and hadn’t checked in with each other that morning before going to work. Hence the twinning element in their clothes that day).


Anyway, I loved that pantsuit, and so they both fervently suggested that I go shopping at the store, and described it as the mid-range brand between COS and H&M. I wonder if they knew that it is owned by H&M. On their corporate site, H&M states that, “& Other Stories was launched in March 2013, offering an extensive selection of clothes, shoes, bags, jewellery and cosmetics. The brand is all about fashion, with particular focus on quality and design details as well as personal expression and styling.” And they describe COS as “Modern, timeless, tactile and functional. Exploring the concept of style over fashion,” and "high-end design and quality that lives beyond the seasons is available for women, men and children.”


What I get from their communications writing is that COS sounds more expensive, and has more design integrity than its sister sub-brand. In reality, the clothes are beautifully conceived, well-cut, restrained and chic. The store design feels deluxe and sleek, reinforcing the clean lines and clarity of the design palette. It’s hard to leave the COS store without purchasing something, no matter how small. The retail experience at & Other Stories, on the other hand, felt decidedly down-market, despite the prices. Sharp lighting, cheap display, strange stand-up price markers on the metal, free-standing racks. I was completely underwhelmed, yet the brand is building up speed very quickly. It’s not quite fast fashion, as it’s too pricey, and that position is held by the parent brand in the H&M structure. I can’t even put my finger on their brand, which either means I’m not the target audience (shouldn’t make a difference, as I don’t drink coffee but I understand what the Starbuck’s brand is about) or that all the pieces haven’t yet been knitted together between the clothing design, store design, signage, variety and quality of product. As a self-respecting shopper, I’m happy to stay tuned to see how the holes in their brand are resolved.

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Go Forth! Mercurylab in London (Part Three) | The Conran Factor

August 05 2014

Sir Terence Conran’s influence on the way the British live has been immeasurable. It wouldn’t be possible for me to list all of his contributions to the design and comfort of British life, but he has been at it since the 1950s, and The Conran Group continues to be a vital force in British culture.

Signage at the new Design Museum

For those of you who haven’t been there, try visiting the original Design Museum in Shad Thames before it moves to the Commonwealth Institute in Kensington in 2016. This famous building is considered to be one of the major post-war buildings in London, and as such is a fitting home for the expanded and continuing conversation and influence of design in all aspects of our lives. Conran has donated £17.5 million to fund the new museum. Meanwhile, the new Design Museum is already showing its influence, creating brand awareness through their presence in the current windows at the John Lewis and Peter Jones department stores, where many Londoners go to get their housewares, drapes, clothes, and of course, to visit the “foodie” Waitrose food hall in the Oxford Street John Lewis.

Design Museum curatorial expertise at John Lewis

In any event, the Design Museum curators have given their imprint from a historical or contemporary design perspective to items sold at John Lewis, a heritage brand that is currently 150 years young. It’s a great way of creating high street awareness and appreciation for good design. Conran furniture and objects are also sold as part of the Conran collection for Marks & Spencer, and the upscale Conran Shop is still a destination for excellent mid-century classics as well as modern and contemporary design. And now in another venture that shows he still has his finger on the pulse, Conran has conceived of the Albion Cafes.

The Albion Café's delicious offerings

Ahhhhh, Albion. There was an hour wait at the café in Shoreditch, but we luckily stumbled in the door at the café behind the Tate Modern. The market itself is a perfectly curated (but not twee) and surprisingly affordable mixture of goodies from the Albion kitchen (massive jars of homemade raspberry preserves; tomato chutney; homemade baked goods); vegetable, cheese, smoked fish, and a good selection of specialty teas, biscuits, Guernsey yogurts et al. And to make it even better, there’s a 15% discount if you have expanded your mind at the Tate in preparation for expanding your stomach at The Albion. I’m gushing, but dinner was delicious. Conran’s idea worked as usual – feeling that upscale pretention was not the way to go, he conceived of something homey (it is), and relaxed, where you could eat and do a bit of shopping for things you really need, and those you simply want. Now that’s the mind of a visionary trend-reader and trendsetter at work. I’m going to appreciate him yet again today when I have some of that delicious chutney with my fish for my lunch!

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Go Forth! Mercurylab in London (Part Two) | They (and we) Love to Eat

July 29 2014

Farmer's Market Marketing

Whether based in Brooklyn or London, good farmer’s markets not only bring a sense of the native culture and some delicious foods, but also offer great marketing opportunities for the vendors.

Broadway Market, Hackney (Left, Popino, based in Hampstead, and their homemade savory tarts and pies; right, artisan cheeses from all over the UK)

The markets provide a great atmosphere and the chance to sell not only your product, but your brand. These small business owners and artisans foodmakers often build their brands at markets, gaining a following that allows them to begin to wholesale or maybe even open their own shop. These days, in the artisan sector, a successful food brand will always bring together a combination of market sales, wholesale and retail. The sellers at the market level are in a unique position to get feedback about their products straight from the horse's mouth (so to speak). Sellers can interact with customers, create a relationship, and put a face to the food. It's all very organic (mind the pun). The UK has been forward- thinking in providing provenance for local foods, and the local food movement has taken hold and flourished here for many years, far in advance of the US.

There is an incredible interest in locally sourced food. Cooks and consumers want the Real Deal. Organic. Healthy. Ethical. Local. Lucky for market stalls, eating and ethics all get rolled up into one concern that points to more sales and exposure.

Heavenly Andina, where we set at the kitchen counter and coveted everything coming out of the kitchen

Adina, an amazing Peruvian spot we went to a few nights ago in Shoreditch, is one of many restaurants to feature fresh, local, GMO-free ingredients. They call out their sourcing right on the menu. Even the beverages are based on “Peruvian Super Fruits,” and the fries are not potatoes, but are actually healthy root vegetables typical of traditional Peruvian cuisine. Anyway, it was all delicious, and everyone in the busy kitchen wanted to share their enthusiasm for the food. YUM!

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America Apparel & Dov Charney

July 04 2014

I was momentarily shocked when I first read that American Apparel’s board of directors (finally) ousted CEO and founder, Dov Charney. Shocked, but not at all surprised. Or perhaps a bit surprised that it actually happened at all. Dov Charney has been accused of harassment, misconduct, sexual assault, discrimination, and general smarminess for years. The brand was built around the uber-hip attributes he projected, and the success of the brand’s sexy, modern, “too cool to care” image seemed to leave the CEO untouchable.


So, what is leaving him so vulnerable this time? Is the company perhaps becoming aware that the 15-20 year old crowd is like, totally in their mid-20s now, and don’t want to support this kind of behaviour? Or maybe, and more realistically, the board of directors is finally realizing the negative effect that Charney’s actions are having on sales? Reports have noted that the sales numbers significantly drop around a new scandal release. At this point, it may be too risky for company sales and stock to keep him at the helm.

What happens when a CEO‘s brand attributes still align with the company he founded, and yet over time he becomes too much of an albatross, both financially and in terms of public perception of the brand? You got it, folks. He gets kicked to the curb, because in the end, American Apparel will survive just fine without him. Despite this week’s desperate stock grab for power, it may be the moment in which American apparel as a brand is better off disassociated from his persona and shenanigans. After all, they have a finely developed sense of who they are, and will continue to stay relevant unless a new CEO and Creative Director come in to tinker with their brand and design aesthetic.

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Courting the Milennials: Banana Republic Ramps it Up

June 03 2014

with guest blogger Annie G.

Banana Republic is a brand that has long been seen as Gap's older, more mature counterpart (or at least since its induction to the Gap Inc. family in 1983). The company has transitioned from its original positioning, exchanging the original safari themed items and decor for a more polished look. Their aesthetic has been targeted towards Ben and Anna (say it out loud and you'll get it), their fictional, 30-40 year old, well-off, style conscious customer. Simon Kneen, Creative Director since 2009, successfully designed for this audience for many years. However, in recent seasons, Kneen has been criticized for dulling the brand down and perhaps being out of touch with current trends.

photo by Billy Farrell Agency

Enter Kneen’s replacement, Marissa Webb, Banana's new Creative Director. Not only is Webb young and stylish, but she's more plugged in. She's conscious of the vital role social media plays, and is an avid Instagram user. Webb’s personal Spring 2014 line displayed a fresh vision that will help push Banana's image forward, and her point-of-view will create a shift in Banana’s design sensibilities, audience, and marketing that will help them to reach hip, twenty-something millennials and their buying power. While Ben and Anna remain a core part of Banana Republic's demographic, Benji and Annalise are the new kids in town. They may still have brunch dates like their parents, but they're young professionals with blogs to write and tweets to send, and they want to look cute while they’re gramming.

While Webb isn't expected to debut a collection until next summer, her ascension has already created a notable shift in the brand's product. Additionally, the late L'Wren Scott designed a successful colourful and bold collection for the company. Her prints were a bit louder, the colors more saturated. The cuts were sleek and (dare we say) sexy. And all of a sudden, Banana engaged in some effective social media marketing. With the release of Scott’s line came a Twitter/Instagram selfie contest. Fitting room mirrors had decals that read #ThisIsGlam, and encouraged customers to take and post pictures in the collection. Last week, Banana Republic also launched another collaboration with Marimekko, the graphic and funky Finnish brand that has already staged a successful comeback.

While the brand will always be loyal to Ben & Anna, the duo who love neutrals, classic non-iron shirts, and perfectly fitted Sloan pants, the future may have a positive pop of colour for Banana Republic. Will this mass-market clothing brand successfully throw off its mumsy identity and evolve with the times and develop deeper and more vital market reach? We’ll be sipping on our Arnold Palmers and taking a wait-and-see.

photo by Banana Republic

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Thank you WPO!

May 15 2014

Somerset House (left), Beth in action (right)

What a fantastic experience at the SONY World Photography awards gala and then at Somerset House for my two part talk on fundamentals of brand creation, and communicating your brand. Beautiful venue, wonderful hosts, and super talented photographers. Thanks, WPO!!!

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