Branding Big Companies For The First Time

I have worked with smaller growing companies in the past. Their structure is flexible, their identity isn’t as established. It is in a way creatively limitless to the inexperienced. There are some cons with the little guys. You may have a grandiose idea that would do amazing things for them. After creating the story board, faux prints, data, a clean spreadsheet and a nice presentation – it is out of the budget, they have limited knowledge of business terms, or advanced techniques for brand awareness. Simply, they aren’t apart of that market which has a want, or need for that level of services. Then one day you get a chance to use those ideas in your head. Those notebooks can get used for the right company. The right brand. The right target audience. One of the big guys likes your style and wants to use your mind to help his company do better.



I am lucky enough to have a good rolodex of contacts in various industries and this one in particular (entertainment, professional sports and national NPOs) worked completely in my favor. I learned the ins-and-outs of how to take this campaign from a proposal – to presentation – to reality. It takes time to build report with any industry professional especially when there are other brands involved. Finding how one company’s artist works with a franchise’s image. What are the long term benefits from the partnership? Where will the income increase by implementing this strategy?

Creating everything from guerrilla video tactics, timed-PR releases, authentic presence on social media by find a campaign where users generate their own content – so much of it was excitingly overwhelming. It was all the things I had been working towards independently when I was sub-contracting. So much of it was trying to mimic tactics used by larger companies in an effort to replicate those kinds of results for start-ups and small to midsize companies I worked with. It was like there were no rules as long as the rules made you win. All the resources available to you.

I worked with a small team and together with our combined expertise we pull off something amazing. It was gratifying in a way I can’t fully describe when I was able to see the work myself and my colleagues did appear and be appreciated. I learned something. I was so used to working solo on helping companies make themselves better – I was able to be better because of a team that was just as motivated as me. With our range of experience of expertise, skills and contacts we did something none of us would’ve been able to do on our own. That is something I wish to do again. 

Pissed Your Content Isn’t Working?

You did everything right. You studied your target audience. Late nights of red-bull til sunrise working on concepts. You produced a full campaign. You called the radio station. You were on TV. The sponsors were there. The graphic content was beautiful and focused.

AND there is basically no traction. 

Obviously I have been there. It sucks. It’s like playing against someone that is way better at a game than you and they are laughing as they kick your ass.

…slightly dramatic, but I am a type A. I hate to lose.


Lets work this one out with some advice from Pulp Fiction. 


1.) Be Cool Like Fonzie.

 DON’T PANIC. Focus. Check your metrics. Lay the full board on the table. Note any instinctual weaknesses. If they don’t make sense, pull someone aside and have them look at it with you. Two heads are better than one and likely another idea will come up. If your client wants to pull out. Sit them down and see if there is a way everyone can get what they want with a few changes to the initial plan.

2.)  Engage Your Audience.

NOW.  Why are you reading this still? Do it. Direct message people. Ask questions. Comment back. Tweet back. Search hashtags and post. People will be brutally honest so put on your big boy/girl pants, suck it up and get ready for news you don’t like to hear. It is medicine. You don’t take medicine unless you need to…AND you do. I have had people say something was overpriced and 15 people like it. I adjusted slightly. Explained it’s cost and got a positive response for engaging. Do it. It is a good thing and people outside of the conversation will notice.

3.) Re-Engage.

It was pricing. It was the look. It was placement. It wasn’t funny. It didn’t tell them enough. Probe. Brainstorm. Adjust quickly once something is being found ineffective and get it taken care of ASAP.  And remove the garbage like it like a cyst. Sow it up. Re-engage those customers after. Update them.

4.) Taking A Risk To Bring It Back To Life.

You have no idea if it will work. You are all watching attentively. A moment of silence. Two, or three hours. My God. It worked. You kept your cool, took a risk on the seat of your pants. BOOM! A miracle. Great job. You just saved the day. A man, or woman of legend. 

It is going to be stressful. You are going to feel unsure. It’s more than likely going to be something radical that grabs peoples attention. Why are you doing anything at all if that’s not your plan? Trust Thyself, or Bust Thyself. 

5.) Attack.

Post it. Share it. Blog it. Interview. Call people to share if you’re just starting. Go to the place your target audience would hang out and ask them if they know about you. It is ballsy, but I did it. Not only did they tell me yes, they told me why and why they wouldn’t be interested. Don’t stop once the adjustment is made. Keep the pace til the frenzy happens. One of the main reasons things don’t work after adjustment is because people stop doing what gave them the result once they have the result. 

6.) Get Over It. Move Forward. night animated GIF

Marketing is sometimes this obscure beast. Especially for personal brands, creatives and start-ups. You have this idea in your head of who you are talking to. Kind of like taking a girl out for the first time. You know you’re attracted to her. She’s has all these qualities you’re looking for. The truth is most of the time you have no idea who it is you’re talking to. That’s why brands speak to us on a deep level when we use them for so long. The dynamics change and shift as the relationship moves along. In order for you to get your needs both parties need to be satisfied. That happens by listening to what your audience has to say attentively. It is always about the details. You don’t get those the first time.

So your hard work didn’t pay off the first time. So what? If you came up with that idea, there are 5 more to follow up on which are probably written in a notebook, a cloud file, or a napkin. Pull it out and take it to the puzzle factory. If you say you’re sorry, show you’ve changed and put yourself out there…I am sure they will give you a second chance.

What You Need To Finish Your Marketing Plan

It’s sometimes a challenge. Anyone who has started a company (or worked for one) and actually cares knows the sometimes grueling process of taking something creative and making it into a comprehensible business format. It’s like catching flies. There are so many and they buzz everywhere. Your job is to catch them like Mr Miyagi. Your keyboard is the chopstick. All hail the Red Bull, 5-Hour Energy & Protein Shake Cocktail. Play the ambient mix on Spotify and bring on the challenge. 

What You Will Need:

1. One Five Hour Energy, Two Red Bulls & A Protein Shake


If you want to feel the boom like a presenter at a network marketing event then chug down and buckle in. Sometimes you are making this happen the night before (after working on it diligently all week of course) and crunch time is here. Luckily college trained you for this and you’re no pansy. Caffeine is your sword to conquer the mighty forces of destruction, client satisfaction and seemingly impossible deadlines. 

Warning: You might die by drinking all these at once. 


 2. A Good Spotify Playlist


Don’t Worry About Changing The Song. It Distracts You From Whats Important. If You Don’t Have Spotify, Use Mine. Tried & True. Also Majestic Mixes on YouTube is great as well.


Bands: Tycho, Washed Out, Boards of Canada and some classic DeadMau5. You’re drinking massive homepage_large.5c66ed4damounts of caffeine after all. 

This is just my opinion. Electronic and Folk seem to do the trick. Whatever floats your boat.




3. Scratch Paper


Einstein, Hemingway, Curie, Newton…Don Draper. All intellectuals of stature use scratch paper. It may seem primitive, but it works. Take your hipster ass off the screen and onto paper. Sometimes it flows easier.  

Hint: If it doesn’t write initially write on the paper push down on the back end of the utensil. You should hear a *CLICK* at which point an ink tip will pop out. This is called a pen. You will be fine.

Que the Space Odyssey 2001 theme song. 


4. Facebook Turned Off 


Be Real With Yourself. You Want Just A Little Hit…Just One…It’ll Only Take 5 Minutes…

This includes any other distracting Social Media that isn’t business related. Don’t dick around. Get in the zone and stay there. The internet has too many entertaining Vine, Instagram & YouTube videos to be trusted. Despite what you have told yourself while texting, driving, drinking  your coffee and watching a YouTube video simultaneously. The human brain is much better when mono-tasking. Don’t do it. I believe in you.

5. Ready…Set…


Walk through the steps in your head. Keep it simple. The summary and slogan dictate the brand…stay on track. Make sure everything is in key with that. Remember your training. Dive in and let the part of marketing that is work flow from you. 



E-Cigarettes: Regulations, Opportunity & #Vooping. Yes, It’s A Real Thing.

It wasn’t going to be an easy road for the “smoking alternative” companies, or the E-Cigarette to compete against the well embedded nicotine giants. After all, they have lobbied for years using billions of dollars with no avail to change the minds of government officials to let them do as they please. If the new kids on the block thought they were going to just come in and grab that market share unregulated…today is a day of reckoning.

VAPPENAs a non-smoker, curiosity gripped me. It is futuristic array of flavorful choices and with a healthier alternative to traditional smoking; it had a cool factor with the glow that memorized me like a bug. I’ve tried E-Cigarettes of all types. To the standard Blu to a customized piece worth $200 that uses flavored “juice” that is heated and turned to vapor by a battery pack with a digital interface for optimal smoking comfort. It is a smoking product for Gen-Y.

As someone who enjoys picking people’s brains on why they chose the product, use the product and have loyalty – every E-Smoker is a brand ambassador for their product. Religious about how it works, its benefits to the consumer and how it “helped them quit smoking.” They are involved with the product the same way Apple and Android advocates are.


It is an advertisers wet dream. Extreme loyalty means there is a culture in the system and consumers are picking sides. Although the regulations are looming on advertising, the getting is still good. Think of how many commercial opportunities there are for social media advertising.

On Instagram right now there is a trend called #VOOPING and use your imagination to put the pieces together. Yes. It is people vaporizing while doing their business. It’s a real thing and you’re looking it up right now. You’re welcome. Seriously, go look. 

Like most digital products the design isn’t confined by it’s function. It’s not an analog product as far as cigarettes go. It will also be interesting to see where their looks evolve as they become more efficient, sophisticated and mainstream in the smoking community.

VAPCUSTOMThe package it comes in won’t be the only thing that makes it recognizable. Vaporizers have an intimate level of ownership that great products usually have. There is plenty of room for new competitors to enter the market to improve what’s there for the demand that is consistently growing. It is going to be interesting to watch and to be involved in.

Christopher Pickerel is experienced and educated in the area of digital branding and marketing. Follow him on twitter to get updated on his latest blog posts, content and videos at @CAPICK, or email him at

Instagram Video – If Your Company Isn’t Doing It, It Should Be.

Social media is radio. You get a blast out to the amount of audience (followers) you’ve currently generated initially and then if it is digital worthy than those users share it with their friends and so on and so forth. Nothing new.

What I love most about Instagram is that it is free broadcasting for video and print media. You can make a high quality commercial, artistic showcase, or use a beautiful image to tell a story. It is a wall of pictures and video. You could literally do anything you can think of with the number of editing apps and communities that support each other. It is a creative’s paradise and it will open up opportunities for brands who use them.

tumblr_mve3kz3WG21st5lhmo1_1280tumblr_mtawb6Bzzy1st5lhmo1_1280tumblr_mqq4ivpL641st5lhmo1_1280The “#” is more relevant to gaining loyal engaged audiences than Twitter – even though Twitter is important. Images and video always will give more credibility. Which is why you are finally starting to see big guys diving in bed with YouTube, Vine/Instagram and Snapchat.

The places generating the content are more effective (uncharted territory) than using the larger social networks like Facebook and Twitter. Which serve as the Trending Beacons. Not where they originate. If you want to control where the movements happen you have to start where the content is generated. Then it gets replicated. And hopefully goes viral.

15 seconds is more than enough time to entertain and engage your prospect consumer. Great content will yield a return on your investment and your time. Any business can compete in this model. If you make a great campaign people will follow you. You’ll find your audience and you’ll generate business from it. It is going to be exciting now that social media has found its television ad platform. Back to using strategic branding in images to explain your product, service, or idea to massive amounts of people. It’s only going to get more interesting from here.

Christopher is a producer, web &  graphic designer and brand manager who has had years of experience consulting and creating strategies for clients.

Find find @c_a_pick on Instagram to check out his videos, art, music and designs for clients.