News + Blog : Trends & Research

Strong Correlation Between Brand Strength and Sustainability

September 24th, 2014 | Posted by Susan Weissman

Research done by the Conference Board demonstrates there is a “relatively strong correlation between a measure of brand strength and a measure of sustainability.” The correlation is consistent across companies, industries, regions and enterprise values. The most important drivers of the correlation are how well a company treats its employees and its environmental policies.

Let’s take a step back a minute. A brand is what you stand for — it’s the essence of who you are as a company. And the most powerful thing any company can do to build their brand is engage their employees fully in understanding the brand, living the brand and being brand advocates.

Now, combine that with a general trend in our world right now — consumers have become more aware of corporate social responsibility and sustainability performance. It matters to us. So it’s a winning combination – be a company with strong social performance and your employees will be more committed to your company and your brand. Who better to proudly talk about your brand than your employees? I would certainly pay more attention to an employee who has the inside track on the company — wouldn’t you?

Categories → Branding, Trends & Research

The Conference Call: Enabling or Preventing Communication

June 4th, 2014 | Posted by Susan Weissman

Alexis Madrigal did a great piece on NPR yesterday about the conference call — what’s working and what’s not.  What is curious to me is to figure out how to communicate with different people as our technology constantly changes.

The conference call is really sort of low tech, but Alexis points out how often things go wrong:

• Ooops, got the wrong dial in number

• The pin number was too long to remember

• Is so and so on the line?

• Someone hasn’t muted their line and we can hear your (dog, baby, coffee grinder, tapping on the keys working on a different project)…

On the other hand, there are so many tools to help us get the job done better and faster. What about Slack? Google Hangouts?

Alexis concludes that in some ways, the conference call is the common denominator for intergenerational communication. While the young prefer texting and the older prefer face-to-face contact, the conference call offers something all colleagues agree has merit. Take a listen.



Categories → Design & Culture, Trends & Research

“Selfie”—Early 21st Century; from self + i.e.

March 4th, 2014 | Posted by Georgia Relich

The Ellen DeGeneres selfie taken at the Academy Awards. I can’t get away from it. Every media outlet from the New York Times to Mashable has reported on it. It fascinates me. All the speculation . . . what it real? what is staged? was it a sophisticated Samsung product placement stunt (after all, rumor is that Ellen was using her iPhone backstage and Samsung did run a ton of commercials during the show)? Who knows, but what I do know is that within a 4-hour television show, seven tweets garnered between 26,000 and 170,000 retweets. Even Twitter seemed as amazed by the selfie as I was.

A Twitter spokesperson is quoted as saying “We were surprised and delighted to see Ellen’s use of Twitter during the broadcast of the program and the power of Twitter as a companion to TV is evident in the live reach we saw of that single Tweet.” eMarketer agrees. In their recent article, they report that the site has passed the early-adoption market and is settling in a pattern of more mature growth across demographic groups. But, what does it mean for us marketers and advertisers? The eMarketer article contends that older users are more likely to engage with ads. That bodes well for Twitter where 25- to 35-year olds are more into the service than teens, and in 2014, they’ll also represent nearly double the number of users. A maturing user base means slower growth which fuels marketplace concerns that Twitter is not growing fast enough. But, the article contends, a “well-established user base can be a less violatile user base, and Twitter’s maturing users not only in numbers but also in age could influence its advertising revenue potential.”

All good information for us marketers. But, what I really want to know is whether the pizza delivery guy was really a pizza delivery guy or a starving actor.

Categories → Media, Trends & Research, Web

SEO For Responsive Websites

January 20th, 2014 | Posted by Scott Leisler


Increasingly, the topic of having a “Responsive Website” makes its way into conversation early during Discovery Phases of new web projects.

Should we build our website to be responsive (working on a variety of devices such as desktop, tablet, phone with a single CMS) or build a desktop version and a separate mobile version? At this point it’s clear that responsive is overwhelmingly become the popular direction of choice.

Content decisions are made early on regarding how images and copy should be displayed and the importance of each design element is weighed against what will create the most user-friendly experience on each respected device.

Seems easy enough right? Create a content plan, everyone communicate effectively and soon enough users are experiencing content on the device of their choice.

There is however one little detail that is often forgotten – how responsive design relates to search engine optimization.

With SEO best practices constantly changing, today’s rule of thumb is to create honest content (no black hat tricks) and user-experiences for visitors. But it also means building your responsive website so that search engines know how to find it and index content easily. This is particularly worth pointing out during the content development phase of the website build when key decisions are being made about when and where content is displayed. The SEO solution for a “traditional” desktop solution may not translate 100% to a responsive site.

It requires another level of thinking and a lot more planning than in the past, but necessary to ensure users can easily find what you want them to see.

To learn more and for a checklist, check out Smashing Magazines write up: SEO for Responsive Websites.


Categories → Best Practices, Trends & Research, Web

2013 – The Best Year On The Planet For Humankind

January 6th, 2014 | Posted by Susan Weissman


How’s that for a shock? We were crawling out a recession, there was a brutal civil war in Syria, our government shut down and demonstrated to us just how dysfunctional they are and the whole NSA spying fiasco. But Zack Beuchamp shares some big picture facts that make your head spin:

  1. Fewer people are dying young and more are living longer.
  2. Fewer people suffer from extreme poverty and the world is getting happier.
  3. War is becoming rarer and less deadly.
  4. Rates of murder and other violent crimes are in free-fall.
  5. There is less racism, sexism and other forms of discrimination in the world.

Now, that’s what I call pulling your head out of the weeds and looking at the big picture. A very difficult and important perspective to achieve. It’s also representative of something called Asset-Based Thinking. A foundational philosophy one of our clients teaches and builds into all of their service offerings. It’s the practice of working to see the cup as half full. You can actually build skills to approach your business from this perspective.

I’m optimistic about the future. I believe we can keep improving the world we live in, the businesses we create, the relationships we have. But sometimes I feel naive believing in a positive future. I appreciate Zach and my Asset-Based Thinking friends at The Cramer Institute for helping me see it another way.

Categories → Design & Culture, Trends & Research