World Photography Organisation Event!

April 25 2014

Just a quick reminder that May 3rd and May 4th, Beth will be giving a presentation at the Somerset House in London. Please come join us for the afternoon, as Beth talks about managing your brand effectively, and how to discover, communicate and market your vision. You won't want to miss it! 

Click here for a full description of Beth’s two-part presentation.

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Upcoming Event | World Photography Organisation

April 12 2014
May 3rd, 2014, 1-2:30 PM, GMT
May 4th, 2014, 2:30-4 PM, GMT

Join us on May 3rd and May 4th at Somerset House in London for Beth’s special two-part presentation: Why Having A Clear Point-Of-View Matters. This presentation will be hosted by the World Photography Organisation, sponsored by SONY.

Beth speaking at PPA's ImagingUSA in January 2014

© Richard Schiff          

Working from a combined psychological, analytical and business perspective, Beth’s talk will help you to understand how to discover, communicate and market your vision so that you become a go-to photographer or artist. It's important to convey your special capabilities and traits so that potential clients can easily understand why to collaborate with you. Managing your brand effectively will help you to be happier in your work and more successful in your career, and can translate into real increases in sales and market share.
Click here for a full description of Beth’s two-part presentation.

This event is perfect for photographers and artists at any level and for creatives in related fields. You won't want to miss it!

Click here to learn more about becoming a WPO member.

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EOS & Their Smooth Moves

March 05 2014

Over the past few years, I’ve noticed the popularity of a colorful egg-shaped Lip Balm amongst twenty-something women wherever I go. This runaway success is from eos, which stands for the “evolution of smooth” and whose tagline “Having a delightful twist on Lip Balm” seems to be working out well for them. The packaging is unique, and compelling, so the allure and differentiation of the product begins on the outside, before you even get to the flavor or color of the balm itself.

I first saw the eos lip balm a few years ago at a charity event I participated in on behalf of MTV’s Save the Music Foundation. The brand is fully committed to their demographic, as evidenced by its product placement in Miley Cyrus’ fun, but highly controversial music video of her summer hit, We Can’t Stop. Lots of celebrity product placement followed, with Kim Kardashian, Kristin Cavallari, and Nicole Scherzinger seen using the “egg”. With the power of celebrity influencers, many young women are using eos daily. At an inexpensive $3.99, eos even rang up sales as a popular stocking stuffer this past Christmas in their target demographic.


Now, all of you know how much I love mythology, and eos is also the name of the Goddess of the Dawn, who rose each morning at her home at the edge of the ocean. She is usually depicted as a beautiful woman whose robe is woven in flowers, and has wings like a bird. She is considered to be the genesis of all of the stars and planets, and her tears form the morning dew. A name like eos is filled with high aspirations, and the brand would like to imbue this sense of power and authorship into the confident young women who buy their products. Interestingly enough, the brand is marketed only to women – there are no unisex colors, or flavors, so they have clearly marked out their brand strategy to consolidate their market preeminence with their chosen demographic.

It turns out that the company makes other products too, such as hand and body lotion, and shaving cream. Who knew? I wonder how they are doing with these brand extensions, as I’ve only seen that popular egg. My intern carries around her Blueberry Acai egg every day, and my old assistant pulled out her yellow pastel egg at the slightest provocation. Would this brand be as popular without its unique shape? It seems possible, as it is also organic, with fun flavors, which is also totally on-trend, and popular with its target audience. Smart brand, smart design, smart packaging, all very focused, resulting in deep market share.

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Fashion Week February 2014: Jill Stuart

February 12 2014

This past weekend, I had the opportunity and great good fun to attend Jill Stuart’s Fall 2014 fashion show at the tents in Lincoln Center. In reality, going to the tents is nothing like Project Runway, kids. It’s a fairly straightforward experience, with the audience sitting in a dark space constructed with a kind of ad hoc feeling, bleachers, and a white runway. The difference from one show to the next is in the music, the hair and make-up and of course, the clothes.

Jill Stuart is known for her feminine dresses, and she has been selling them successfully for quite a long time. She was born into a fashion family and immersed in the fashion world from a young age, and amazingly sold her first jewelry collection to Bloomingdales at age fifteen. Along with five hundred other retail outlets, she still sells there today, and even created an exclusive collection for Bloomies for the 2013 holiday season. Interestingly enough, one of her earliest collections was heavily featured in “Clueless,” a film that was infused with the upscale, girly, socially exclusive and fun clothing worn by Alicia Silverstone and her faux friends.

Going into the show, my impression of her Jill Stuart's design aesthetic was girly, easy to wear, and middle-of-the-road. I was wildly surprised to see magnificently detailed dresses hit the runway, with a feeling of incredible modernity in cut and embellishments. For the first time, I became a believer. In her press handout card, the collection was framed as being: irregular beauty, untameable, easy, boyish, effortless, unimpressionable and adorned. From a brand perspective, I understand this particular collection as being easy and effortless (which are in fact identical brand attributes), adorned (a capability rather than an attribute) and boyish in that the shapes of the clothes were quite angular and clean. Does it follow my impression of the brand as a whole? A qualified yes. And in fashion, is that enough? Again, a qualified yes!

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No Messing Around: Girl Power at the Toy Store

January 30 2014

with contributor anniegee

Goldie Blox is a toy brand that is assertively staking their claim to "disrupt the pink aisle" by providing young girls the resources and visual language to engage in the early stages of engineering, which is typically boys’ turf. While many of the stores selling the product are smaller boutique toy stores, Goldie Blox has also infiltrated the system at large. Both Toys R Us and Target sell the toys either online or in store, indicating that the mainstream market for little girls is looking for the brand of girl power that Goldie Blox delivers.

Their motto – “Toys for Future Innovators” – differentiates this brand from the majority of toys targeted to young girls. It's been awhile since we've seen astronaut or doctor Barbie, and even in the old days, professional Barbie seemed more like a costume than a call to a professional identity. The Goldie Blox packaging is "cute", and features Goldie with her big sparkling eyes, but the visuals aren't as saturated in pink glitter, butterflies, and rainbows as typical girls’ toys. Ditto the colors and typography, which are fun and engaging without going overboard. And they know how to use the digital space wisely. Last year, Goldie Blox put out an ad spot that went totally viral. The video showcases three young girls who are totally bored with the frills of their current girly toys. Inspired, they use everything from a pink feather boa to a spinning Barbie to build a multi-layered "Princess Machine" inspired by the Rube Goldberg Machine beloved by who? Boys and men! Take that, guys!

Debbie Sterling, Goldie Blox CEO (and real life mechanical engineer) has definitely seized a market opportunity. Growing up in a small town, Sterling didn’t even realize that engineering was something that existed, let alone something she could do. Since getting her degree, she realized that if she didn’t know her options, lots of other little girls didn’t know theirs, either. Consequently, her brand has been lauded as a feminist brand but also criticized for the same reasons. This is one reason I always say that when you approach brand analysis, you need to come at it from a neutral perspective, and see in a pure way what the brand has to tell you. This is the basis of being a good brand analyst.

No matter what your politics, the whole world should be presented to young girls, so that playtime encourages them to become strong, thinking young women. You can be a princess, dress up, wear pink, and still be an engineer. Goldie Blox encourages girls to be  multi-faceted people; both "girly" and smart. As Sterling said, "We believe that femininity is strong and girls will build the future — literally." Is everything perfect? Have we finally reached the pinnacle of gender equality? Has Goldie Blox totally revolutionized the toy industry? Of course not. However, the conversation has started; moves are being made, and that’s just as important. And from a branding perspective, it’s always good to be first out of the gate in claiming a new space. Education is always required; think of Apple in the early days. And look where they are now!

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Down Home in New York: Fishs Eddy, and the Retail Experience

January 23 2014

Many may view kitchenware shopping as a boring chore, but Fishs Eddy makes the experience totally fun and enjoyable. Honestly, it’s less like shopping, and more like the easiest treasure hunt you’ve ever done. Fishs Eddy is fully stocked with one-of-a-kind vintage and vintage-inspired pieces. They have literally everything you need, and plenty of things you never knew you needed so much. The merchandising and display reinforce the sense of personal fun, yet its true power is in being tied to our memories of a solid America that many of us have only experienced through books, movies, and the things we buy and the homes we create. So the brand is about a personal, universal, and romantic view of America, much like an uber brand like Ralph Lauren, or even a mall brand like Anthropologie.


Fishs Eddy is a consistent and well-managed brand that has been around since 1986, one that has weathered many trends in home décor and entertaining. Shoppers respond to their casual vibe and country flea market "general store" environment, where hand-painted signage and wooden crates spill over with sturdy china bowls and plates. Even with their rustic aesthetic, the designs still feel relevant and on trend — a perfect example is their recent collaboration with minimalist, stylized wildlife illustrator Charley Harper. The pieces he designed with Fishs Eddy are crisp and modern, yet their retro, mid-century feel fits in perfectly with the brand’s thrifty, eclectic atmosphere and products. I can just as easily imagine a 50’s southern housewife shopping here, as well as a hip, young New Yorker. The shoppers around me were saying that it’s simply impossible to leave without purchasing at least one tiny cup.


The takeaway: Know your brand, and manage it well. Know your market, and hit your market with consistent brand touch points. Have a think on that, and then we can meet for some apple pie and coffee, served on Fishs Eddy’s dishware. Later!

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Brand Loyalty & Starbucks

January 16 2014

As we have discussed before, Starbucks is a company which has managed its brand exceptionally well, and has built formidable brand loyalty. Attendees to my talks know that I always encourage them to be good brand analysts, and to approach any brand from a neutral perspective, so that you can understand what they stand for without judgment clouding your assessment. On to Starbucks, but in this case, with a judgment.

A few weeks ago I was at a hotel where the snack and breakfast bar was a Starbucks concession manned by hotel staff in hotel uniforms who jumped between serving at the Starbucks counter and functioning as hotel staff, even washing the floors in front of us while the coffee was brewing. Although the products were the same as at any other Starbucks, the service was not. The staff kept guests waiting while they dealt with hotel business at another counter or placed the behind the counter garbage can unappealingly in full view. Product knowledge was not good, and the effort to make a cup of tea took at least ten minutes per customer, so that a long line snaked through the hotel lobby. This was not the service we have come to expect from Starbucks.


So what happens when one encounters a brand touch point, like a mismanaged hotel concession, and has a bad experience? I was disappointed, but I still had my breakfast there each day I was at the hotel, and the repeated bad experience will not prevent me from going to Starbucks in the future. Ultimately, the product they served was the same, but the wrapping (that is, the service) was not. People tend to be forgiving of a brand like Starbucks because the product is predictable, and the brand has worldwide brand loyalists. From a financial perspective, extending the Starbucks brand into hotels, which they have been doing for years, does have clear benefits. They have increased market penetration, brand awareness, and increased sales.

So in this instance, Starbucks has increased profitability, presumably at low cost, without damaging brand loyalty.

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PPA's Annual ImagingUSA

January 09 2014

Beth will be speaking at the Professional Photographers of America’s annual ImagingUSA this year in Phoenix, AZ. She is honored and excited to be the first person to invited to bring formal branding and brand strategy for photographers to PPA attendees.

Her seminar will take place on Sunday, January 12th from 5pm to 6:15pm. She will be available to speak for an hour before and after her presentation, and also available Sunday and Monday all day to answers questions and to talk about her on-one-on work with creatives.

Click here for more info and click here to register.

Looking forward to seeing you there!


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Traveling Light to San Jose

December 05 2013

Beth just went on a whirlwind trip to the West Coast to speak at the fittingly high-tech and well-designed San Jose Silicon Valley Chamber of Commerce. Beth’s seminar about How to Brand your Company, Organization or Product resonated with her wonderfully engaged audience, many of whom are involved in the tech world. Thank you, Emily LeDeau at the Chamber! We will get in our covered wagon and head out west any time you would like to host us!

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Expensive Divorce: Starbucks & Kraft Foods by guest blogger Cedric Littman

November 26 2013

Recently Starbucks had to pay Kraft Foods a huge settlement. The agreement was for Kraft to distribute Starbucks packaged coffee beans into the supermarket supply chain, while Starbucks alleged that Kraft had underperformed despite Kraft increasing sales tenfold.

Kraft is a huge food manufacturer with hundreds of brands delivering consistent mediocrity who, as their recent take-over of chocolate maker Cadburys shows, puts efficiency before ethics. If we compare the Starbucks and Kraft brands, what would we think? We think of Starbucks as a modern company delivering an excellent coffee experience in its welcoming shops where customers are warmly greeted. Starbucks is also known for its ethical business practices and treatment, having switched over completely to fair trade coffee and tea, promoting actively from within and providing medical coverage to all workers, even part-timers, so that the impression is of a circle where employees, suppliers, and customers are well treated.

by Ryan Gustafson

This prompts the question “is Starbucks is not managing its brand properly?” While presenting itself as a friendly company with high principles, it employed Kraft who seek value by delivering mediocrity at the expense of quality. Starbucks was disappointed Kraft had not increased its supermarket sales, wanting them to push hard into a market where staff are not well treated and small brands are at a disadvantage.

We think of Starbucks as highly principled and enjoyable. Can we draw any conclusions from Starbucks choosing Kraft as distributor of its “ethically produced” coffees? Starbucks’ behaviour was not in alignment with their brand positioning as they picked a corporate partner not known for their integrity, and then was angry with Kraft when profits were less than anticipated. It was a weird marriage to begin with, and ended in an expensive divorce.

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