Blog

Is All of That ‘Noise’ a Bad Thing?

How many times have you heard talk about the dreaded ‘noise’? The other day a friend of mine lamented about how digital camera prices have dropped to a point where ‘everyone’ is calling themselves a ‘professional photographer’ and its creating so much ‘noise’ in the industry. But it seems to be everywhere – from startups …

Nostalgia, Mad Men and Emotions

Yours truly at a Brains on Fire Mad Men Christmas party a few years back. I’ve never gotten caught up watching the show, Mad Men. But the other day someone showed me a short clip that got stuck in my heart for many reasons. Take a minute and watch it. Don’t you love that? The …

The End User is Not the Only User

I am not a product designer. I’m not even a designer. But I noticed something recently that made me think hard about the process of developing products and experiences. My wife and I were eating at a burrito chain where one of the new Coca-Cola “Freestyle” drink machines was installed (1). I’m not a soda …

Hello (and some photos) From Chicago

We’re at the WIT. Love the little brilliant details in this hotel, like birds quietly chirping in the halls. I’m in Chicago this week at Womma‘s womm-u with Cordell and Geno. And I’m so glad we all came. Honestly, I wish everyone from Brains on Fire could attend. Yesterday’s keynote speaker Steve Knox is shiny …

6 Things Food Trucks Can Teach us about Social Media

Food trucks are all the rage. They’re popping up everywhere, embodying the principles of not only fine dining, but fine design on the go. There are food truck lunch breaks, food truck festivals, even food truck weddings. And now food trucks are teaching us a thing or two about social media. This weekend I came …

The things that make us happy. And human.

Poster available via weareyawn.com Hmmmm. The things that make us happy are not really “things” at all, are they? Today Cordell sent me this brilliant Harvard Business Review article. I love the question that Umair Haque asked his social media friends. What makes us human? In one word, preferably. The most common answers were: empathy, …

You Are Who They Say You Are: I say “Starbucks,” you say ???

What words or phrases come to mind when you see a Starbucks logo? What feelings do you associate with the Porsche seal? What do you think about when you pass a truck with the FedEx mark painted on its side? Here’s a fun little midweek find that will give you some insight on how other …

Dreaming Cow: Great Story, Great Brand, Great Packaging, Great Yogurt

Isn’t it wonderful when you run across a product that breaks through the flood of commodity-mediocrity and makes you smile? (I’ve written before about how a company called FieldCandy accomplished this with tents.(1)) I was in a regional grocery store recently, and a package of yogurt jumped off of the shelf and did just that. …

Visual Pollution.

Photographer and typographer Tony de Marco has been out documenting the move toward Sao Paolo’s clean city in a sequence of images published on Flickr. The city, he says, is starting to feel more “serene”. Years ago I seriously considered dropping out of the marketing world. I hated being a part of the visual noise …

Bringing Back Recess

Yesterday was one of those unusually cool autumnal days we don’t see a lot of this time of year in South Carolina. The kind of weather that compels you to slow down and take note of the world. The choreography of leaves dancing in the wind. A man walking a matching pair of dogs down …

Arousal, Word of Mouth Marketing and WOMM-U

Yup. Kind of blurry iphone photo. But that’s Geno. Quick — before you read this post, drop and give me 50 push ups. Nope. I’m not kidding. I’m doing an experiment. Do your push ups, (I’ll wait.) Then keep reading! Ok. Done? Good. I’m getting excited about going to WOMM-U in May. Are you going? …

Do you make your customers feel at home?

I’ve always loved the front door of Brains on Fire’s worldwide headquarters. Do you see the face? The other day Cordell and I had a little email exchange. I’m not sure how it even began, but somewhere along the way he shared this thought: I sometimes wonder if our modern age has created an entire …

We could all use a little pixie dust.

When I was little, I had a lot of fantastical ideas. I was convinced my stuffed animals came to life at night to protect the house from burglars lurking in the shadows. I tried to make a deal with the Tooth Fairy to keep her spare change and leave me a unicorn. Once I even …

Start Something.

Photo from my friend John Bielenberg‘s iphone. Don’t you just want to know where that road leads? I love the start of things. Start up companies and organizations fascinate me. I love hearing stories of first kisses and first dates. And first jobs and first cars. I cry at weddings. And when babies are born. …

Being an Outsider

I’ve been blessed to have a traveled a fair amount in my life. I have been to Africa several times, the Caribbean, Canada and the UK. Most recently I chaperoned high school students in Italy for ten days. As we crisscrossed Italy by bus, I read Imagine by Jonah Lehner. By some form of divine …

Storytelling and Wonder.

Last week I took a needed break from my crazy-busy-full life and spent some relaxing time on the coast. I turned off my iphone. (I even put it in another room while I slept.) I shut off my computer. I rode bikes. I watched clouds and listened to the wind. I walked on the sand …

Saying a lot in a little: Tag(line), you’re it!

Copywriters are not typically known for our brevity when it comes to words. Ask any designer, they’ll tell you. There is an epic battle between designers and writers waging on in agencies around the world. Designers: Can we chop the copy by half? Writers: Can we alter the design to include the copy? As wonderful …

Digital Path to Purchase

“Digital path to purchase” is a really popular topic these days. Rightly so: businesses are working hard to navigate a world who’s information and (increasingly) commerce happen through the internet. I’m not going to pontificate or predict on the subject – there’s plenty of both out there. What brought the topic to the front of …

11 More Days!

One of the coolest things about the people I work with everyday is this: Everyone is an artist. Seriously. Megan is our “workflow” guru but she is also a talented painter and photographer. Last week the Brains on Fire crew gathered at my house to celebrate Eric’s upcoming marriage to Julie. They actually meet because …

It’s About People.

We’re all in marketing grad school. Surrounded by massive changes in how we communicate, we need to study and share and listen hard with an open hearts and minds. The good folks at KellerFay are some of the best “professors” I know in the Word in the Mouth Marketing world. At Brains on Fire, we …