Making Every Element Count

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Great albums are like great brands.

Dark Side of the Moon


Back in Black


Appetite For Destruction

Zepellin IV

Great albums are full of songs that connect and compliment each other.

While each song is unique, they are part of a greater tapestry that leave the listener with a certain special feeling.

Great brands do the same.

They understand that every aspect of the brand contributes to that greater brand “aura”. The brand isn’t simply the logo, packaging, retail display, distribution system, social media, marketing, and promotions. A great brand takes everything into account in order to leave people with a certain special feeling about the brand.

Even the legal department needs to be aware of the brand’s essence and aura.

Consider Jack Daniels, the famous whisky from Lynchburg, Tennessee.

Jack Daniels himself founded the brand in 1866. He chose square bottles because he felt they conveyed a sense of fairness and integrity. Jack used the finest corn and highest standards to create his Old No.7 whiskey. The “Old No.7″ was a reference to his government registration. When the government changed the registration numbers for distillers, Jack continued to use Old No.7 on his bottles because his brand was well-established.

It was Old No.7 that won the gold medal for the world’s finest whisky at the St. Louis World’s Fair in 1904. During World War II when access to quality ingredients was limited, the brand stopped production completely for five years.

Today Jack Daniels represents the same old school brand values. It is a premium product, famous for quality. It is the drink of Frank Sinatra and Al Pacino in Scent of a Woman. It is the drink of down home good old southern boys. It is tradition. It is Gentleman Jack himself.

When author Patrick Wensink used a variation on the famous Jack Daniels label for the cover of his 2012 book Broken Piano for President, the legal team at Jack Daniels took notice.

broken piano for president


Like most legal teams, they did what they needed to do in order to protect their property. They sent Patrick a cease and desist letter.

But they did it in a way to perfectly captured the essence of the Jack Daniels brand. They wrote a letter with integrity, honesty, fairness, old world values, and southern friendship.

It is quite possibly the kindest cease and desist letter you will ever read.

It explains the situation, suggests a rational solution, offers to cooperatively solve the problem, and expresses genuine gratitude for the author’s fondness of their brand.

As a result, the cease and desist letter has gone viral.

The Jack Daniels brand is being talked about. The brand’s values and attributes are being spread.

All thanks to a legal team that “gets it”.

You can read more at Patrick’s website here.


jack daniels 793 Comments

Use The News To Build Your Brand


There is a massive PR machine just waiting for your brand, offering up literal millions of dollars in free advertising.

It’s called the news.

When a brand smartly capitalizes on the news cycle, the results can be brilliant.

In 2008, when Axl Rose announced that the long-awaited album Chinese Democracy, twenty years in the making, would be released by the end of that year, Dr. Pepper called his bluff. They offered everyone in America a coupon for a free Dr. Pepper if the album actually came out in 2008. It did, by the way, and Dr. Pepper’s website was overrun with requests for free soda.

Taco Bell has mastered the art of “newsjacking“.

When the Russian space station Mir was falling to earth in 2001, Taco Bell floated a massive target in the ocean off Australia and offered everyone in the USA a free taco if the space station hit their target.  It didn’t hit the target, but the stunt was a huge hit and gained them incredible free publicity.

Last week it happened again. A story broke in the news about Air Canada pilots leaving pornographic materials in the cockpit. The airline issued a stern warning to its pilots to please keep their porn out of the cockpit.

Adult website jumped at the opportunity, and offered a free membership to every Air Canada pilot.

I had never heard of before this stunt. Honest. But I’ve sure heard of them now.

When you have a product or service that fits into the big story of the day, consider ways to insert your message into the news cycle. What can you offer that would get people’s attention?

Media outlets are constantly on the watch for unique angles on big stories, and when you can provide them with a fresh way to bring the story to life, both you and the media outlet win.

From the book Newsjacking by David Meerman Scott comes this graph showing you how and when to insert your brand into the news cycle:


Air Canada, Guns N' Roses, Taco Bell 1,284 Comments