Category Archives: Corporate Communications

Update: Shopping Center Fixes Poor Brand Signage

A New Jersey shopping center has corrected a retail brand signage mistake – and good for them.

Denville Commons shopping center - Denville, NJ. August 10, 2015. Credit: Harvey Chimoff.

Denville Commons shopping center – Denville, NJ. August 10, 2015. Credit: Harvey Chimoff.

In August, I wrote about the pending debut of the Olive Tree Marketplace along a busy state highway traffic corridor in Morris County, NJ.

No doubt in a hurry to build pre-opening awareness, the shopping center and/or store made some poor marketing decisions about signage:  Marketing Blasphemy: Don’t Use Your Logo? Continue reading

Marketing Blasphemy: Don’t Use Your Logo?

Google famously broke the rules about brand logo use.

Logo Branding MarketingWhile their maverick approach has paid off, general best practice guidelines are still relevant.  Consistent logo use across marketing communications is one.

Another best practice is making sure you have contextual appreciation and a corresponding usage plan.  Unfortunately, when that fails, the outcome is lousy communication.

For example, take the billboard that’s impossible to absorb at 65 miles per hour. The creative probably looked great on the computer, where the approver had time to take it all in at close range.  But not on the interstate highway.

Another example is retail signage.  Whether designed to be read from a fast-moving vehicle or just at a distance in the parking lot, the same principle applies: the communication must register quickly.

Of course, maybe the logo itself needs some design improvements.

Graphic credit: Olive Tree Marketplace website.

Graphic credit: Olive Tree Marketplace website.

Which leads me to the Olive Tree Marketplace, soon to open its second store in Denville, NJ.

The self-described “perfect hybrid of gourmet meets grocer” seems to offer an exciting food shopper experience:

“Our name was derived from all the healthy and natural ingredients we sell in our market and the inspired gourmet food we prepare with Italian, French, Middle Eastern, and Mediterranean influences.  Our complete line of natural, organic and gluten-free products along with our extensive deli, baked goods, gourmet prepared food, fresh seafood departments and chef-made gourmet catering is combined with everything you’d find in your conventional market.”

Great.  I know what to expect and will visit.  But what about the thousands of cars passing by on the 50 mph state highway every day?  Will they be able to take note of the name and follow-up like me?

Not likely.  Here’s the temporary sign on the main shopping center stanchion. You can’t read the logo driving by — nor via full-zoom on my smartphone camera.

Denville Commons shopping center - Denville, NJ. August 10, 2015. Credit: Harvey Chimoff.

Denville Commons shopping center – Denville, NJ. August 10, 2015. Credit: Harvey Chimoff.

Continue reading

Tweets from Brooklyn: NBA Team Exec Wins with Direct Customer Engagement

It’s fascinating to observe how executives communicate, particularly on social media.

Irina Pavlova. President - Onexim Sports and Entertainment Holding USA, Inc.  Credit: Brooklyn Nets.

Irina Pavlova. President – Onexim Sports and Entertainment Holding USA, Inc. Credit: Brooklyn Nets.

A related dynamic is how senior leaders of professional sports teams are increasingly communicating directly to fans.

Last week, the top executive overseeing the operations of the NBA’s Brooklyn Nets selected Twitter to directly engage the team’s fan base, which I’ll discuss.

I’ll also share 7 Tips to help leaders navigate in this new age of omni-platform communications.

But first, some background.

In early July, after just his first season as an NBA head coach, Jason Kidd left the Nets in a controversial, messy fashion. Despite his reported power-play motivations, the Nets, specifically General Manager Billy King, took the high road in public comments.

There was much speculation about how Kidd should be/would be treated in the run-up to his return to Brooklyn as head coach of the Milwaukee Bucks on November 19th, as well as continuing media coverage from both team’s perspectives.

The speculation was fueled by the first public comments on the matter from the team’s principal owner, Mikhail Prokhorov.

Answering a reporter’s question before the Nets’ home opener on November 3rd, Prokhorov invoked a version of the famous American phrase “Don’t let the swinging door hit you in the *** on the way out.”  It was communicated with his typical wit, and a bit of humor, in a calm, non-emotional manner.

For non-NBA fans, note that Jason Kidd’s number is retired and hangs in the rafters of Brooklyn’s Barclays Center. Rightly so. Kidd was a terrific player for the New Jersey Nets, leading their transformation in the early 2000s that culminated in two consecutive appearances in the NBA finals.

Nevertheless, sports fans are typically dismissive of players and coaches who “don’t want to be here,” and it’s fair to say that Kidd wanted to be elsewhere. Prokhorov’s comments reflected that sentiment.

Irina Pavlova is President, ONEXIM Sports and Entertainment Holding USA, Inc., the business entity that oversees and operates the Brooklyn Nets on behalf of its principal owner.

Understanding the backdrop and context, take particular note of Pavlova’s personal account tweet a few hours prior to the game:

Well done!  This is a superb example of leadership in action and effective, “taking the high road” communication.  Importantly, Pavlova was able to change the conversation to where it should be – about the Brooklyn Nets and looking forward, not about the former coach.  Her tweet was noted and reported by the media, including ESPN, thus propelling her message to a wider fan audience. Continue reading

Pro Teams Score with Direct-to-SportsFan Marketing

Increasingly, professional sports teams are taking their important communication messages directly to fans.

Powered by the ubiquity of the Internet and fan tethering to social media platforms, direct-to-sportsfan (D2SF) marketing offers pro teams an unprecedented, and unfiltered, communication vehicle to their fans and season ticket-holders.

Brooklyn Nets Head Coach Lionel Hollins. Photo: Brooklyn Nets website.

Brooklyn Nets Head Coach Lionel Hollins. Photo: Brooklyn Nets website.

What is direct-to-sportsfan marketing?

D2SF is a hybrid marketing strategy designed to enhance the relationship, connection and relevance between teams and their fans, especially season ticket-holders, via the creation and direct sharing of special access, customized content.  It’s a combination package of marketing communications, content marketing, public relations, customer engagement and social media marketing.

Tactics include:

  • In-house Broadcasting.  Teams create their own reporting and broadcast content, typically with their own, paid journalists.
  • Coach-To-Fan Communication.  This takes the form of letters, short videos and recorded telephone messages.
  • Owner-To-Fan Communication.  Public letters, season ticket-holder messages and tweets are commonly used.

Communications expert Ivy Cohen, president and CEO of Ivy Cohen Corporate Communications, provides some perspective to help understand this developing marketing philosophy:

“The fan-team relationship is a symbiotic one.  Teams need fans to establish the value of their brands and keep the franchise flourishing.  Fans want to connect with their favorite teams for the psychic rewards of competition, winning, belonging, and a variety of benefits that come with entertainment, love of sport and following a season.”

Cohen adds:

“When player contracts were long-term, fans felt strong ties to individual players, the team brands were represented by a steady player roster and fans had strong team brand loyalty and player attachments.  Since that system eroded, fans need more and meaningful ways to feel an ongoing connection to a team.  Fans want to feel connected to their team and are seeking a persona to contribute that.  Owners and coaches can be strong representatives for their teams.”

Overall, as a targeted sports fan recipient myself, I like to see what the coaches or owners have to say unfiltered.  It’s a nice supplement to all the sports journalism.  And, as a marketing observer, it’s interesting to note what and how teams decide to communicate.

Let’s look at two examples from the past few weeks.

Jason Kidd Letter to Bucks Fans.  Posted 7/7/2014 to Milwaukee Bucks website.

Jason Kidd Letter to Bucks Fans. Posted 7/7/2014 to Milwaukee Bucks website.

Jason Kidd is the new coach of the NBA’s Milwaukee Bucks, having controversially orchestrated his departure from the Brooklyn Nets sideline. You can read his letter of introduction to Wisconsin fans:

Continue reading

How NOT to Engage Customers: NY Mets Strike Out with Fan Letter.

Talk about a wild pitch!  Last week’s fan letter and call-to-action produced by the New York Mets baseball team is bad marketing.

However well-intentioned it may have been, the letter is a misfired effort at fan engagement and boosting game attendance.  Note that I’m a big Mets fan, so I take no joy in writing this post.

Source: NY Mets website.

Source: NY Mets website.


There are so many missteps that I hope the marketing department was forced to implement this idea.  Let’s break it down.

Continue reading

Planet Fitness Drops Dumbbell with Gym Member Communication

It’s not only what you say, but sometimes what you don’t say, that irritates your customers.

Similar to poor communication, a lack of communication can also be damaging if you’re trying to maximize positive customer engagement.  Case in point:   my gym, Planet Fitness, just dropped a dumbbell and they didn’t say excuse me.

Here’s what happened.

Photo: Planet Fitness Facebook.

Photo: Planet Fitness Facebook.

When I signed-up for membership a little more than one year ago, automatic monthly billing was set-up via card credit.  I haven’t had any problems.  The process has worked fine.

Last week, my credit card on file with the gym was deactivated due to fraud concerns.  Once I received the new card, I made a special trip to give the gym my new card number.  I figured it would be easier and faster to handle it in person rather than calling by phone.

It was neither.  To my surprise, I was informed that Planet Fitness no longer offers billing by credit card.  I was told that, based on a recent change, payment is now only allowed via checking account direct withdrawal or debit card (seems the same to me). Continue reading

Duke Libraries Tell Stories to Raise Funds. Plus 3 Tips for Your Marketing Team.

How do you motivate alumni to give money to libraries?

Or, more generally put, how do you persuade someone to do something that’s not top of mind?

You tell meaningful stories.

Storytelling has been a powerful marketing communications tool for a long time.  Today, it’s often talked about in association with content marketing.

And while it’s not a new tactic, when used effectively, it can produce important business results.

Duke Magazine - Special Issue 2013

Duke Magazine – Special Issue 2013

Take this ad for Duke University Libraries, for example.

The photo caught my attention and led me to read about how Duke assigns a librarian to every first-year dorm.

To me, that’s an interesting story I’d like to know more about.  The eye-catching visual, along with the text, quickly dimensionalizes an abstract concept and makes it easy to understand and relate to.  There’s a URL to get more info.

The result:  Duke has a greater chance to raise funds earmarked to its libraries. Continue reading