Inside-out Blog

The delivery man and dark tales: a beastly lesson for your brand

monster dooms your brandLast week, a hot, tired delivery man came into our office with some much-needed supplies. He delivered more than just packages. He delivered angry, ugly opinions about someone else’s brand.

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The customer journey starts with your employee journey

Customer and employee journey Marketers are spending a lot of time talking about the customer journey. We’re not hearing the same talk about the employee journey, and that’s a shame. Because the customer journey with your brand will be bumpy at best if the employee journey isn’t thoughtfully mapped out and put into action first.

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An ad campaign won't fix what's wrong with your team

vitaminis for your brand It’s an all-too-common malady: sales are flabby or fundraising goals are lagging, so leadership determines that a fresh new ad campaign is just the thing to make everything right.

When we start asking questions to diagnose the situation, we often discover something else: an internal problem.

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Stop driving with your parking brake on

brand danger parking brake on If you ever put your car in drive with your parking brake engaged, the car lets you know it right away. Ignore the warning at your own peril.

You know not to do it to your car. So why let it happen to your brand?

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A crisis is not the time to be handing out business cards

DHS thumbnail Have you put off planning, budgeting and—dare I say it—dreaming? If so, you’re probably working too much in the business and not enough on the business.

Don't wait for a crisis. Plan now.

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How gossip amplifies (or muffles) your brand

mic gossip brand thumbnail Amazon Chairman Jeff Bezos has famously said, “Your brand is what people say about you when you’re not in the room.”

If you take this to heart, you need to understand all the people who talk about you when you’re not in the room.

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4 tips for your intern's first day—according to an intern

Moriyah RambergSpecial blog submission by Moriyah Ramberg

I was lucky enough to be selected for MB Piland’s internship program this summer. Now that I’ve had time to reflect on it,  I'd like to share tips on how to make an internship a valuable experience for both boss and intern, starting with the first day.

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Branders: take that foot out of your mouth

smile for your brand The starlet (insert name) was stunningly beautiful—until she opened her mouth and became a devastating disappointment to her fans. Her foot will be removed from her mouth with the help of a good PR agent.

Branders: it’s harder for you. You have numerous people who can make your brand look dazzling—or like Hollywood’s biggest trainwreck.

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From groan to great: make your next retreat the best yet

employee retreat root canalBe honest: have you ever heard an employee (sincerely) say “OH cool—I’m so excited!” when you announced a staff retreat? For many, the thought of a day away from the office stuffed into a conference room to plan sounds like as much fun as a root canal.

 

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3 kinds of hoarding that smother your brand

hoarding hurts brandsLook into the proverbial closet of your organization. Chances are, there are a few habits or tactics you know you need to give up—but for some reason, just can’t. Worst case scenario: you have a vast store house that needs to be purged.

What’s still hanging around is weighing you down. It's a sign of sickness that needs immediate intervention.

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Break the ice: 4 ways to better cold calling

defrost your cold callsWhether you’re raising money, growing customers, pitching a reporter or recruiting committee members, you have to make some asks. It can be uncomfortable. But to advance your objectives, you’ve gotta brave the cold.

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Brands: be yourself—everyone else is already taken

easter bunny copy catCUOscar Wilde famously wrote these words to individuals. Branders should take heed as well.

Are you borrowing from another brand’s unique positioning?

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It costs you nothing to make me feel important

FSGC Valentine CUIt's easy to make customers and donors want to come back again if you make them feel important. It's inexpensive—even free—to do it. But it doesn't happen by accident. It must be built into your brand and processes.

Are you building a feel-the-love culture?

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How about a "cleanse" for your brand?

Brand Juice Cleanse MB PilandEverywhere you go, people are revved up about exercising and eating right. And you can’t avoid hearing about the latest cleanse. (TMI). It’s possible that your brand needs all that extra attention, too.

Just how far should you go?

 

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Sweet 16: strategies for the (brand) new year

sweet 16 for your brand thumbnailThough this week heralds the arrival of a brand new year, we’ll be making resolutions for 2017 before we know it.

Don't let 2016 slip away because you were busy.

Here are 16 strategies for a stronger, more profitable brand.

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How a ride-along can speed innovation and sales

windshield speed ride alongWhat could you learn if you and your employees really rode along on your customer's journey?

It can definitely build your brand.

Here's how to learn more and get profits speeding ahead.

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Let’s Just Be Friends

its not youRelationships sometimes don’t work out, and there’s a break up. The same is true for your employees and you.

“it’s not you, it’s me”

Not every employee will be with you for a lifetime. Sometimes they leave you. When they do leave, do you know why?

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"Good enough" is not good enough for your brand

SIgn of an ugly brandI’ve seen an awful lot of brand ugliness lately. Ugly design, cheap quality and slipshod work.

A “good enough” philosophy tells employees and customers a lot about your organization. Here are 3 DON’Ts:

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I don't want to take your @#$% survey

surveyRecently I received a letter from a business along with a survey. “I want to get to know you and your company,” the letter said.

But it was just plain lazy.

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3 things to stop doing to your brand now

Stop sign for your brandMental habits turn into strategic and tactical action.

Are there some harmful habits you need to break? Here’s a quick check for things you should stop doing right now.

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Why building employee loyalty is like dating

Take a good look adams kovacs 1960Turnover is very costly to business. It can cost a company up to 30% of the employee’s salary (and some say more) to replace someone. And in today’s labor market, there’s a lot of movement.

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How to avoid a zombie brand-pocalypse

Tor Johnson.BrandZombies have much in common with angry current and former employees. They can decimate a brand as quickly as a village in your favorite horror movie.

Watch for the warning signs or it may be too late.

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Please don't make me ask for the bacon

brand missing baconTwice this week, I’ve selected a menu item specifically because it was supposed to have something dear to my heart on it. Bacon! Both times, bacon was missing. It got me thinking about the way I felt, and how brands can disappoint their people in a similar way.

 

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Why Fear Doesn’t Work

angry faceIt’s a great day when you can whip through a meeting, present the plan and assign roles and responsibilities. Everyone is nodding and then they all go back to their desks and get to work. That’s solid, effective leadership, right?

Not so fast. Fear might factor into the silence.

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Your brand’s most important sign: the exit

brand exit sign thumbnailThere's a lot of talk about displaying welcome mats and rolling out the red carpet for customers. But are you also taking care of them on the way out? Here are 6 ways to ask the right questions.

 

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Keep employees, board and customers in love long after they buy your brand

Swan Go Container Builds Brand DelightPeople pay for your brand with their hard-earned money. They also pay with things they hold even dearer: their affection, their advocacy and their time. Are they getting what they pay for?

 

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Tired of hosting “me-too” events?

TCT Art of MurderMany non-profit organizations have golf tournaments, 5k runs and fancy dance-dinner parties with silent auctions. But when you can make your purpose and mission part of the experience of the event, the result is far more powerful and memorable. It reinforces your mission like nothing else.

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Why you absolutely must create theatre for your brand

theatricalmask pinkA blockbuster brand has all the elements of great theatre.

Creating drama, pageantry and excitement with both employees and customers generates raving fans who tell others.

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selling without listening: a 1-sighted equation

Short Sighted SalesBusiness process is important. Presenting and promoting options to customers is a necessity.

But when brands focus too much on selling and not enough on listening, profits will inevitably fall. Case in point:

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5 Ways Santa Can Run Your Business Better

Santa Claus holding piggy bankNaughty kids get coal in their stockings. The nice kids get what they want. As a high growth business, how do you get what you want in your stocking? Here are some handy tips from Santa to fill your "stocking"—and your business—with profit and prosperity.

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Boo-yah! What Navy SEALs know about training excellence

US Navy SEALs insigniaIn many companies, training is a low priority. But every high performance organization acts differently. They're the ones who become legendary.

Case in point: Navy SEALs. Here are 4 lessons they can teach every corporate leader:

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Get out of your own way: 3 obstacles to profit that start with you

get out of your own way to grow your brandToo many CEOs are looking for growth but can't seem to get out of their current rut. Their greatest obstacle? Themselves.

Here are 3 common examples and how to obliterate them.

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Tactics without strategy is just noise

toppled queenWe often encounter business leaders trying to skip to the end without doing the hard work it really takes to get there. They jump from one big idea—or consultant—to the next, looking for the shortcut to leapfrog past their competition.

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Environmental Branding: True Brand Immersion

brand-immersion-croppedCreating a powerful brand experience goes far beyond having a sign outside and welcome mat at the front door. It's about expressing the brand's personality and promise everywhere. Read on for ways your environment can get your brand off the B list.

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A simple employee recognition builds a contagious brand

Peer recognition helps build a healthy cultureEmployee recognition programs can be healthy internal brand builders—or just band-aids. St. Mary's Medical Center in Grand Junction, Colorado has a program that makes everyone feel fantastic.

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Brand focus: Keep your eye on the ball

Royals mascot2Here in Kansas, everyone's got World Series Fever. The Kansas City Royals are playing in the series for the first time since 1985. Royals merchandise is flying off the shelves and blue is to be seen everywhere.

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Bran-damage: 10 sneaky things that poke holes in your brand

Brand with a holeSneaky, insidious little inconsistencies in your brand add up to big holes. That means you have to work harder or spend more to overcome them—unless you act quickly. Read on for our top 10 things to watch.

 

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How to make your employee appreciation event one they'll actually appreciate

employee party: make it one worth celebratingEmployee appreciation events are usually born of good intentions. But somewhere in the planning process, committees and "have tos" suck out all the fun faster than a Dyson Ball. Here are 4 ways to make your event a rousing success.

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Walgreen's Be Well slogan: prescription or placebo?

Walgreen LogoI dropped in at Walgreens recently, picked up a few items to help me battle a wretched cold, and the woman at the cash register thanked me and said, "Be well." I felt like she really meant it and I almost stopped in my tracks.

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BRAND BASKET CASE: A CRAZY EMPLOYEE ENGAGEMENT STORY

Screen Shot 2014-09-25 at 5.18.27 PMDo your employees love your brand, and you, so much that they'd go on strike for you if you were fired?

Sounds crazy, but it happened this summer.

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Fruit bowls and brands: beware the buried blemish

one bad apple can spoil the whole brandAt the bottom of the fruit bowl, out of sight, a tiny blemish starts to fester. On top, everything looks beautiful and healthy. But eventually, an odor develops. By the time you investigate—and actually find it—it has spread.

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4 ways to sell without selling out

MB Piland teaches cross selling to grow salesEvery high growth company wants to continue to grow sales and profits. And whether "sales" is in their title or not, you must get everyone throughout the organization to offer more to customers. Read on for 4 examples that offer win-win help—not just selling stuff people don't need.

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HUT, HUT, SNAP! COACH YOUR BRAND (AND PEOPLE) TO VICTORY

pink and black baseball coach capFootball is here! To "kick things off," here's our checklist to build a winning team, along with quotes from Paul "Bear" Bryant, one of the most highly regarded college football coaches of all time.

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Infographic: mapping brand experience

MB Piland brand map infographicA meaningful brand is much more than just a logo or slogan. When done well, it delivers an experience that's far more than the sum of its parts. See our infographic for a look at how to evaluate and build yours further.

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Time to dance with the one who brought you

help customers fall in love with your brandThe heartbreak of going on a date with her "steady," only to see him schmoozing up the other girls at the party has a lot in common with the mob of marketing messages targeted at new customer acquisition.

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Did you find everything you need?

a full shopping bag leads to more sales and profitHow many times have you heard that question: at a check-out counter, at the end of a website transaction or the closing of a customer service call? I'll ask you another question: how many times did you believe the question was sincere?

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Infographic: Map your internal-external strategy

Internal Brand Alignment detailPlanning for a well-aligned marketing strategy is important. When the internal brand and external brand are in sync it's far easier to build loyalty, revenue and profit. Read more for a fictitious graph and some inspiration.

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How honeybees and jackalopes can spur innovation

800px-Pollinationn Louise DockerWhile the word "innovation" is almost ubiquitous, the ability to come up with new ideas that are truly groundbreaking seems to be anything but. Enter honeybees and jackalopes—and how they can lend a hand. (Photo by Louise Docker.)

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Oversights (like tagless tights) that strangle repeat sales

don't let your brand trip and fall because of a simple oversightSuccessful brands work hard to foster repeat sales. They often spend on big programs but can easily overlook smaller details that hobble ongoing revenue.

Here are three things to watch for:

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4 Ways to "Stretch Armstrong" your brand

70s Stretch Armstrong toy'70s era Stretch Armstrong was known for incredible, über-stretchy acrobatics that helped him catch bad guys. With engineering and ingenuity, branders can also accomplish big feats and capture more market share.

Here are 4 ways to grow sales from the inside out.

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Pomp and Circumstance

13109588 thumbnailIt's graduation season. Graduations have gotten a lot fancier since I was in school: large parties, catered food, extravagant gifts. That's a lot of pomp for their circumstance. But with the high price of higher education, some festivities are in order. It's a big deal.

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7 Tips from Shakespeare to Inspire Employees

Shakespear, birthday hat and hornTIPS FROM THE BARD

Shakespeare recently turned 450 years old. To mark the occasion, here's a review of some well known words to inspire and engage your employees from the most quoted author in the English language.

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7 Greek rituals that lead to victorious brands

greek letters: employees should wear the brand with prideAnimal House is probably the quintessential frat movie of all time. The outlandish actions of the Deltas are wildly exaggerated, but even so, they have important lessons for any brand–especially one on Double Secret Probation.

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5 tags with guts

PineValleyPowerLogoBrand slogans should be more than something that sounds cool. The best ones resonate on the inside of an organziation just as strongly as on the outside. Then, magic happens: trial, loyalty... profit. Read more for some of our favorites and why we think they're great.

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What permanent waves and bad haircuts teach high growth companies about change

hair raising change can be good for brandsWhen major changes are underway, it can be quite uncomfortable for employees. Like the shock of an unfortunate haircut, new initiatives may cause collective distress and the desire to hide. Or they could be as exciting as a brand new 'DO!

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Choosy brands choose Groucho—or do they?

Groucho knows brand strategy inside and outGroucho Marx is famously quoted as resigning from the Delaney Club quipping "I wouldn't belong to any club that would have me as a member."

Whether or not the story is actually true, it leads us to wonder why some brands are so eager to accept just anyone.

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Uncork Your Brand's Potential

Bottle for blogIf revenue and profit aren't meeting expectations, a strong marketing program can be a big boost. Stretch that marketing investment as far as possible with some simple things you can start today.

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CVS Quits for Good: Purpose or just PR?

cigs 1

There's been a lot of discussion lately about CVS Caremark's decision to stop selling cigarettes by October 1, 2014 in its stores.

Critics claim it's just a red herring gesture to outflank competitors for lucrative healthcare contracts.

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Cheerios: a brand aligned or an empty campaign?

no internal brand is like an empty cereal bowlThe Big Game is over but the conversation about the commercials continues. This year, 3 commercials tied a brand to a cause. Though they all had an emotional tug, it made me wonder whether they were authentic to the core—or simply an empty campaign.

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3 ways employees can add ZING to your ad campaign

pinklighteningFocus groups are wrapped and results from the consumer panels are in. You're ready to launch a new ad campaign and WOW the world. Will you WOW your employees, too? Here are 3 reasons you should.

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How good intentions can toll a brand's death knell

Mission MomentWe've all witnessed it: the company retreat that gets people fired-up and ready to change the world. But soon, the insistent voices of daily work drown out the enthusiasm. 

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New year's revolutions for winning brands

brands need revolution...explode the silosHave you made any business resolutions for the new year? Better yet: a business revolution. It's a new year, full of possibilities. Here are some ways to create far-reaching changes that make '14 your best year yet.

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Is your brand shade-worthy?

at MB Piland we gotta wear shadesTwentieth century philosophers Timbuk3 sang "the future's so bright, I gotta wear shades..." Their '80s era music video on MTV leaves a message for leaders of this century. You have a bright future ahead, too... if you broadcast your vision in ways that are just as engaging to internal audiences.

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How one ceo, a big fat excuse and a million yards of bad karma burned a brand

well-aligned brand"Frankly, some women's bodies just don't actually work [for Lululemon yoga pants]" famously said Chip Wilson, chairman of Lululemmon.

There's only been an "I'm sorry I'm not sorry" from Chip.

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The Forrest Gump warning for brands everywhere

Brand New Box of Chocolates Do you know people who poke a hole in the bottom of a chocolate to see whether or not it's the one they want? The culprits I know never throw away the damaged piece they've decided against. They just sneak it back into the box. (As if no one will notice!)

 

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Proud to wear the mustache

alex reilly, internal brand, mustacheWe've all had one. At one time or another. You know what I'm talking about. A mustache. Maybe it's a milk mustache. A milk shake mustache. Or a pink Kool-Aid one. Then there's the one you get from an extra foamy cappuccino.

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Don't be afraid to bite off more than you can chew

fearless bite detail"Martha Ellen Bartlett, that's entirely too big a bite for a young lady."

I heard it more than once at the dinner table when I was growing up. I think it means that I enjoy food—and life—with passion. And as an adult, I still occasionally get a bit carried away.

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How a humble PB&J can build a stickier brand

MB Piland loves PBJ lunch and learns2People in your rapidly growing company are working at a hectic pace. They love the brand and are proud to give it their all. But they'll run out of energy (and the company will flounder) if you don't keep feeding their passion and purpose.

Don't let them starve!

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Why You Should Care What the Fox Says

The Fox by Victor Goodpasture ProDigital ImagingThe Fox by A. Victor GoodpastureDid I put that song in your head? You can thank me later. But first, why should you care what the fox says?

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Kill the silos, not the messenger

SizzleDoes your organization make outbound calls to support your issue or invite people to an informational event? Here's a very, very wrong way to go about it...possibly the worst voice message ever.

But it's premature to shoot the messenger.

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When the left brand doesn't know what the right brand is doing

GrandJunctionParkingTixPlease come to our fair city. Spend money at the shops—and some more with the cops.

A recent visit to downtown Grand Junction, Colorado felt like that. Mixed messages, brand dissonance...so, do they want me or not?

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"Don't Buy This Jacket"

10945908 sAt a glance, this seems like a gimmicky marketing ploy. But is it?

Early last year Patagonia began a campaign that discouraged shoppers from spending on Cyber Monday and told them to "buy less."

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I double dog dare you to call

double dog dareI'm not sure if this is a series of coincidences or a disturbing trend. But this week, I've had two "asks" for sizable charitable donations via email or Facebook. And I've had at least five sales people try to pitch me with a cold call via email. Really?

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The dating game: how does your brand stack up?

roll the dice when hiring?When they're hiring, lots of companies spout "great benefits" and "positive work environment" to anyone who will listen. But they don't think about the type of person they want to attract. That's right. Attract. Shouldn't it be more like dating? 

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Do your ambassadors wear the colors?

children wearing green t-shirtsRecently my children went back to school. A sheet came home asking parents to have their children wear specific colors for the first two weeks of class. The reason: our kindergarteners need help learning their colors. First it was Red Day. Then Brown Day.

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6 ways to ensure reengineering success

gearTeam Tomato has 50 ideas. Team JuJube has 65. The competition is on overdrive and the company reengineering is well on its way... or is it?

A friend just gave me the lowdown on the year-old effort at her company. It's grinding to a halt.

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Can upset employees sell Forever?

f21facebook page"Dear (employee), We're cutting your hours and your benefits. If you have questions call nameless HR person. Oh, and by the way, please keep selling our great products with passion."

That's my take on a leaked employee letter from Forever 21 as reported by Jezebel.

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How Borgification is fatal to brands

LIVELONG2Even a casual Star Trek viewer has heard of the legendary Borg. So united in purpose and mission, they were stronger than almost anyone else. The Borg were also scary, evil and incredibly nasty.

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How ancient Chinese wisdom rallies internal brands

ChineseCalligraphythumbnailThere are lots of reasons to read the Art of War. Though it's literally about military strategy, I'll argue that it's equally applicable to a company's success: 

"He will win whose army is animated by the same spirit throughout all its ranks."

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Does your brand's R-Value keep out the leaks?

Rvalue for brands means no leaksIn the building trades, R-Value is a way to gauge how well-insulated a structure is. Low R-Value results in lost energy and wasted money.

Process (or lack of it) is an R-Value for brands that leads directly to ROI.

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How to combat acid-flinging swans

Martha swan eyesThe behind-the-scenes drama at the famed Russian Bolshoi Ballet has made worldwide headlines since the acid attack on artistic director Sergei Filin in January. But the poisonous culture at the Bolshoi has long been reported prior to this.

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How brands say what they don't mean—and how to fix it

hold the phone I can't hear what you're sayingThe '50s song "Hold the Phone" is full of silly gibberish. At the time it was released, most people didn't have the technology to slow it down to decipher the actual words. Some of today's brands are unwittingly speaking gibbersh that audiences won't even try to decode. 

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You've gotta go with the co

COgraphic2Collaborate… cooperate… cohabitate… The stongest brands are a co-mingling of attributes that are co-owned and co-created by the company, the customers and the employees. 

A brand can't be all things to all people—nor should it be.

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How to deliver one big parcel of brand happiness

container store boxI love my closet. My friends know it's merchandised. The hangers match. Items are organized left to right, short to long and light to dark.

My sister in law says it looks like a store.

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More gold, less gravel: internal crowdsourcing

crowd.2Wikipedia calls crowdsourcing "distributed problem solving: assigning a problem to a large group of people to mine collective intelligence." Many companies use crowdsourcing for product development. Dorito's has famously used it for commercials in the Super Bowl. Is it for you?

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Why brands need campfires, not water coolers

CampfireCompanies everywhere have a proverbial watercooler. It's the place to chat about sports, or a new Dilbert-esque project from above. Yawn. The special ones—high growth companies who rely on innovative employees—have a roaring campfire.

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Sync or sink

synchronized swimmingRapidly growing companies are moving fast. Some are kicking furiously in the Shark Tank. Others are trying Lean Startup methods to evolve their brand or launch something new. They're pivoting, exploring and trying to propel ahead.

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How past employees affect your future brand

Worst Place to WorkWhat happens when an employee leaves? Beyond the exit interview, it's safe to assume that several people will post online reviews that are either wildly flattering—or excruciatingly unflattering. Are you paying attention? Ignorance is not bliss.

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A culture of happiness = happy customers

happy customer feedbackHOGG Heating & Air Conditioning Company has a smart internal brand that infects its customers faster than a summer cold. They know they're more than just an HVAC company. They see themselves as the ones who come to the rescue.

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4 ways silos destroy brands

silosA problem for many high growth companies is that their operations are changing at such a rapid rate that their culture and intentional strategies fall by the wayside. At the same time, they probably have a strong external marketing campaign adding fuel to the growth.

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Are we there yet?

roundabout sign2Someone just asked me when I knew MB Piland was "there," or that our company had made it. It surprised me. I believe a high-growth company is never "there." But without an intentional plan, it's easy to get trapped in a roundabout. Here are three things to help you keep driving your brand forward.

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Bulletin board as canary in a coal mine?

despairObligatory rules and regs and a so-called motivational poster in a company break area make me think of something Despair.Inc. lampoons. The other stuff that's posted (or not) can signal an alarm about the health of the internal brand.

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How bow ties and pocket protectors build a genius internal brand

H&R Block celebrates internal customersH&R Block has been under fire for its recent foul ups on electronic filings. But that aside, they make me feel like they're real people who love what they do—and they'll take care of me. I bet their employees feel the same way, too.

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Choose your customers first

seth godinAnother thought-provoking read from Seth Godin's daily blog: Choose your customers first. In this post, Seth talks about how we often rush to the end: creating a product, and then trying to shoehorn in our brand and customers. This is especially dangerous for rapidly growing companies.

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What the Marines and Argo teach us about powerful internal culture

Huff PostSeparating the "real" from the "Hollywood" is always tough for a movie based on a true story. Wonder about details and characters in the film Argo? A recent interview on Huffington Post says one thing's certain: the famous, "Argo f*** yourself" was real.

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Straight up: how Maker's Mark almost put its brand on the rocks


MakersMarkphoto
There's been a dizzying amount of talk about the Maker's Mark decision to cut the alcohol content in its bourbon—then reversing the decision because of the public outcry.

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Turning intense leadership into a high powered internal brand


Art Petty's Leadership Caffeine can jazz up an internal cultureA good read from Art Petty's Leadership Caffeine
We've all worked for intense people. Maybe you're an intense person who's had to lead a team.

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Why high growth companies need internal champions

The Black Knight as championSo, you get it. In order for your rapidly growing company to succeed, your internal brand needs to align with your external brand, and your employees are the most important customers.

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