January 02, 2007


Happy New Year!

November 28, 2006

Seeing (RED)

Sitting at the intersection of globalism and humanity - Product (RED) preforms effortlessley because it has harnessed the power of the brand from the very start. It is an incredibly important development in the evolution of non-profits, global capitalism, branding, and consumer behavior.

Product (RED) is linked to the Global Fund - officially “The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria” (is it a rule that all non-profits or charities must have extremely long and explanatory names?). You could say that (RED) is like an extended capital campaign for the Global Fund, but it is much, much more. What (RED) has accomplished is to be it’s own brand and its own business model.

In fact, the brand IS the business model. (RED) doesn’t sell any of its own physical products, instead it lends its look & feel to companies who agree to support (RED) and in turn the Global Fund. Basically, they are selling their reputation and companies are buying an association, co-opting the qualities and values embodied by (RED).

Simple, seductive, and powerful.

July 21, 2006

Branding & the Non-Profit: CADREC


When I started out as a freelance designer, many of the projects I worked on were not necessarily “profitable.” However, my first experience with an ACTUAL 501 (c) (3) non-profit organization was during college with the Community Alcohol, Drug, Rehabilitation and Education Center, or CADREC. This was a place that people visited because they either were arrested for DUI, DWAI or domestic violence, or needed help to get off alcohol or drugs. It’s main responsibility was to provide services that focused on addiction treatment.

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July 12, 2006

A History of Caricature & Grotesque


I picked up this book in Rochester, NY about a year ago. Originally printed in 1865 it has over 200 engravings, all incredibly bizarre & beautiful.

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July 03, 2006

Let’s Connect

From the SF Chronicle article How to create a market for vaccines by Tom Kalil & Bruce Mehlman:

“Every year, more than 6 million people die from AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria alone. Today, there are no effective vaccines for these and many other diseases of the poor. That’s because low-income countries have average health budgets of $17 to $36 per person, and can only afford to spend pennies per dose on vaccines. As a result, pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies have little incentive to develop these life-saving vaccines. In fact, only 10 percent of the world’s health research and development is devoted to diseases that afflict 90 percent of the world’s population.”
Yes, I ripped this from BoingBoing, but I have a slightly more skeptical take on the article by Tom Kalil & Bruce Mehlman. First of all, let me say that both Kalil and Mehlman are brilliant people and their proposal is an innovative one that goes right to the policy level and may have a chance of actually working.

However, I do have a few questions:

1) Who is going to make the massive initial investment?
2) Can this long-term investment be politically palatable to politicians who are interested in short-term results?
3) If the project is funded, how do you deliver vaccines to people in need? For example, free US food aid is being sold at a premium on the Palestinian streets, or perhaps widespread corruption ala Oil for Food.
4) What is the incentive for countries to not treat this program as a crutch or handout?
This market-centered idea is a good one, especially with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation’s incredible amount of funding to create these markets (HINT, HINT!). Kalil & Mehlman’s plan has a real chance of saving millions of lives, but there still needs the creative community’s involvement. Creative types need to help in building public and political support, developing people-centered methods of delivery for vaccines, increasing education and awareness about health among poor communities, and empowering people to change their living situations through communication & design.

Tom Kalil, Bruce Mehlman, Bill Gates, Warren Buffet, Bruce Mau, Designers Without Borders - have your people call their people…please.

June 29, 2006


New look, new attitude, same jerk at the end of the keyboard.

May 29, 2006

Patent Pending

The concept of Emergent Aesthetics is now patent pending!


April 06, 2006

Chevy vs. the Internets UPDATE

From the NY Times article:

A spokeswoman for Chevrolet, Melisa Tezanos, said the company did not plan to shut down the anti-S.U.V. ads.

“We anticipated that there would be critical submissions,” Ms. Tezanos said. “You do turn over your brand to the public, and we knew that we were going to get some bad with the good. But it’s part of playing in this space.” (emphasis mine)

OMG Ch3vy w4s teh p0wned, but n0w th3y 4re teh r0xx0r!

Seriously. Well-played.

March 31, 2006

Chevy vs. the Internets

This probably won’t last,

and this definitely won’t be around long…

But if they do, and Chevy is able to laugh at itself, then I think the company will end up with a lot more respect and a stronger brand - isn’t it very “American” to be able to roll with the punches?. More likely, they will remove the contest all together and pretend it never happened, which will only make the hole that they are in (at least brand-wise) deeper.

Note to Chevy: You can’t force cosumer-generated brand love.

This phenomenon raises some interesting questions about an open-source branding model with companies that do not already have a solid, devoted following. How much control over your brand do you give to the masses? What happens if the result is not all positive? Are there steps a company has to take before it can go to an open-source model?

Overall, this was a bold move by Chevy. Not a lot of companies would even consider hanging themselves out like that. As I mentioned above, Chevy has the ability to make this potentially negative situation into a brand-building experience where they can reposition themselves to lessen their arrogant and bumbling appearance. However, that probably will not happen, and they will continue to erode their brand with the American audience.

March 09, 2006

RIP Gordon Parks

You will be missed.


January 05, 2006

*Ding* … “I suddenly feel the urge for a Coca Cola soft drink beverage.”

This is very interesting…

“The key message of our study is that we are able to make use of neural signals deep in our brain to guide our decisions about what items to choose, say when choosing between particular soups in a supermarket, without actually sampling the foods themselves,” says Doherty, who did the research while at University College London, UK.

It reminds me of the Eddie Izzard sketch where he does Pavlov…
“Pavlov’s Cat Results – Day One – rang bell… cat fucked off. Damn… Day Two – rang bell, cat went and answered dog. Day Three – rang bell, cat said he’d eaten earlier. Day Four – went to ring bell on day four, but cat had stolen batteries. Final day – Day Five – went to ring bell with new batteries, but cat put his paw on bell, so it only made a ‘thunk!’ noise. Then cat rang his own bell! I ate food…”

November 30, 2005

They were so close!

BoingBoing has been following the exciting development and implementation of the One Laptop Per Child project and they came across another company - AsiaTotal - that wants to give FREE laptops to the developing world (OLPC laptops are $100). However, unlike OLPC, “the [AsiaTotal] machines’ keyboards are lined with hotkeys that take their users to sponsors’ retail websites.” There are also some other major design flaws that limit usability, networking, and expandability.

I was initially incredibly excited, because the headline on the BoingBoing article read Free, ad-supported PCs for the developing world? and that had me thinking that private-sector companies had signed on to sponsor the OLPC project, perhaps realizing the publicity and reputation boost would be unbelievably good for brand image around the world.

But no…of course not. Instead what has happened is another incredibly short-sighted and downright ignorant move by businesses and marketers who just don’t get it. AsiaTotal is basically selling people into commercial/economic slavery, and they are selling this point as a sponsor benefit! From the AsiaTotal webpage:

“For the Sponsor, particularly lead sponsors such as a country’s telecommunications companies, the potential is immense. Not only will Sponsors benefit from a huge new market, but the social responsibility and impact of being involved with iT cannot be underestimated. Not to mention the fact that sole ownership of a hotkey ensures a level of brand loyalty that you could only dream about.” [emphasis added]
This kind of branding practice is absolutely unethical…and yet this business model was so close to being something that would be applauded around the industry. Take the One Laptop Per Child project for example - affordable, well-designed machines that will no doubt help developing countries & people for $100. Combine that with a large, global company (or any company for that matter) like Starbucks (because I’m writing this in one right now). To provide 10,000 computers for developing nations, Starbucks only has to put down $100,000…chump change for a corporation that size. Starbucks, in turn, gets a massive amount of brand currency - good repute - that will no doubt increase the sales of frappuccinos world-wide and ensure a level of brand loyalty that AsiaTotal could only dream about. Stick a Starbucks sticker on each laptop sponsored and there you have it. While a person initially receiving the laptop might not make enough in a year to buy a peppermint mocha, their children or children’s children will likely be better off and remember the investment made in their community.

This business model is similar to the sponsorship system found in international football (read “soccer” for most Americans). Sponsors benefit teams, which in turn benefit their communities and sponsors through reputation. In the OLPC example, the same model applies - sponsors benefit organizations, which benefit communities, and the reputation boost comes from the act of social investment. This is the model that I’ve been working on for disaster response and preparedness as well as open source branding. It’s viable, proven, and jives with the current thinking on branding & globalism. However, based on the AsiaTotal example, it looks like there is still a lot of convincing to do.