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Brands Are Relationships

Branding is not about pressing white–hot, twisted metal into the hide of young cattle, marking them for ownership. Nor is it about a trademark, a logo or a symbol — these are linking devices that promote continuity and connection between entities. Real branding is about defining, establishing and maintaining a relationship between institutions and individuals.

Branding is like any relationship between human beings, the good ones are symbiotic and supportive, bound by promises made and kept, loyalty earned and sustained over time and trust that is nurtured and occasionally rejuvenatedContinue


The Zero–Sum Game Sucks

A “zero–sum game” is one where there is but one winner — your gain or loss is exactly balanced by your opponent’s loss or gain. From national politics to issues between men and women, this theory suggests there can be only one winner. The problem is that a zero–sum game is not designed to produce the best results, but to stop another from winning. There is another way. Cooperation shouldn’t be confused with capitulation. Look at the big picture, knowing that without a sincere interest in the success of the other fellow, your wants and needs will be stymied. Participants that don’t start an endeavor focused on their mutual success could find themselves playing tic–tac–toe throughout eternity.


For the Love of Books

Other than newborns, does anything smell as good as a brand new, not yet opened, book? After leaving an exhibition of Experimental Letterpress in the 21st Century, hosted by the Center for Book and Paper Arts at Columbia College Chicago, we were reminded what first drew many of us to design: the love of books. The feel of the paper, the way the spine makes that little cracking sound when you open it… Read more.


The Truth and Nothing But the Truth

Daniel Pink, the working man’s Malcolm Gladwell, has written a new book called DRIVE: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us. Pink points out connections between the obscure and the obvious. His book pits the latest scientific discoveries about the mind against the outmoded wisdom that claims people can only be motivated by the hope of gain and the fear of loss. This is career–changing stuff… Read more or buy the book.


Making Money Everyday

Wallace was a man from another generation — six foot something, pushing 290, in a navy blue chalk stripe, three–piece suit with black wing tips. At 5:37 a.m., I walked into his office in downtown Chicago. He looked at me, then at his pocket watch, and smiled like he had melting chocolate in his month. Wallace called it “Beatrice time,” arriving at least 15 minutes before the meeting was scheduled to start. He insisted on it from his staff and expected it from his consultants. Don’t waste his time by being late or his patience by being unprepared.

Wallace Rasmussen started at Beatrice Foods hauling ice during the Depression, and ended up as chief executive officer in the late 1970s. While we waited for others, he spoke, not to me but to the almost empty room. “You can never make any real money producing the very best product in any particular category, simply because there are so few who can afford the very best. What we have to do is produce the best–value product in every category. Cost is never the issue, it’s value that makes you money every day.” Mr. Rasmussen made his vision of value work for him and his company.

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