Brand or Bland?

If you can watch this video without wincing in recognition at least once, you don’t work in communications. Sure, we all work hard to make brilliant, powerful, enduring work. But there are times when we are forced to compromise. Perhaps there are budget restrictions, or impossible deadlines, or bosses who won’t listen to reason. Reality happens. But seeing this video reminded me how important it is to stay focused on fresh ideas. It’s the only real tool we have to get the attention of our audience. After all, safe marketing is as meaningless as it is ineffective.

Passport fail


I just received my new passport in the mail. I was horrified—not over my photo, for once—but over the document’s overblown redesign. Gone are the flexible covers that allowed me to flip easily through the pages to admire all my entry and exit stamps and gone are the understated backgrounds that allowed clear legibility of those stamps, my personal data, and my photo. A passport is an official record of our travels to other lands and cultures. It seems contradictory to me that the redesigned pages are so obsessively focused on our own country’s culture and landmarks, as if our government is afraid we’ll forget where we come from.

I am surprised to write this, but not everything needs to be redesigned or rebranded. I like some things to remain unchanged by the whims and trivialities of the real world. Don’t redesign my passport, my license plates, or my money. But, if you must redesign them, please hire a professional who understands the importance of legibility, aesthetics, audience, and concept to do it.

Grace’s world


Grace Weitman is a retired entrepreneur, mother, grandmother, friend, and most recently a photographer whose photos reflect her inquisitive, upbeat nature.

Grace’s interest in photography coincided quite inadvertently with her increasing loss of vision. She has 40-45% vision in one eye only. I asked her if the title of her blog, “Sight Unseen,” was a reference to her own difficulties with sight. Her answer took me by surprise. “I thought it would make a great title for a mystery novel but come to think of it, it also refers to the way I shoot my pictures. I can’t see very well through the viewfinder, so I just point the camera at a scene I think will look interesting and shoot.” Her technique has remarkable results. She has captured spontaneous moments between her daughter and grandson, the incongruity in a Palermo storefront, a warm connection inside a high-tech store, and much more. What inspires her? “I like to take pictures of things that are quirky, or beautiful, or different,” she says. “I carry my camera with me wherever I go.” I for one look forward to seeing more of Grace’s delightful world.

Separated at birth?


I was browsing in a bookstore recently and was struck by the similarities between these two covers. Jobs and Lennon look like twins or at the very least they go to the same hair stylist. The black and white portraits on a white background add to the uncanny resemblance. Perhaps Jobs is subconsciously emulating one of the people who inspired his own creativity. According to biographer, Walter Isaacson, Jobs was fascinated with Lennon’s dogged reworking of a chord in “Strawberry Fields,” asking the band to revise and revise until the sound was perfected. Sounds like strawberries to apples to me.