Tag: storytelling

The Logo is Not Dead: A Reply to Simon Manchipp

Flags are the ultimate logos, and they, like the symbols and icons of their design companions within the corporate world, are far from dead: The former, with their cloth banners of soft pastels or bold colors, elicit a variety of sentiments such as pride, anger, fear, racial or religious purity, valor or villainy, inclusion or exclusion, independence or imperialism, or freedom versus slavery; there are no neutral responses, for example, to the sight of the Nazi swastika or the Communist hammer and sickle, the “logos” of two monstrous engines of paranoia and mass murder, and dual cults of personality — each led by a mustachioed tyrant of seemingly mystical powers, able to hypnotize (and terrorize) tens of millions of otherwise civilized human beings into becoming soldiers or supplicants on behalf of the Third Reich or the Soviet Union — whose legacies persist wherever evil exists, and whose ideologies thrive — and will always flourish — whenever the disciples of hatred and defeat find succor among the complacent and indifferent, while the impassioned and indignant (toward minority scapegoats) do everything they can to hoist those flags atop the halls of justice and stake them within the hearts of good men (and women) who choose to do nothing.


Business logos can also be instantly recognizable, symbolizing luxury, craftsmanship, status and good taste.

The point is: Logos are the result of, not the cause of, earned behavior.

The Rolex crown, Apple’s apple, the three-pointed star of Mercedes-Benz, the Dynamic Ribbon and the Spencerian script of Coca-Cola, and the ten branches of the iconic tree engraved upon every gold plaque for every property managed by Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts, as well as the Polo player of Ralph Lauren and the crocodile of Lacoste — these logos have centuries of combined history, denoting a lifestyle and aspirational living.


Many logos may be dead, but the best logos are alive and well; as they shall forever be.

Building a Brand Takes Time

Bill S Kenney,

Please accept my congratulations for your having written a thorough post about how to present a branding document to a client, but — and there is almost always a but rather than unqualified praise, unless it comes from your employees (particularly those approaching their annual performance reviews) or your loved ones — so I want to issue a point of clarification about some of your wording, while further emphasizing the importance of another section of your memorandum.

First, as I never tire of writing (and saying to current or prospective clients), there are many businesses but few brands. Meaning: A business can be successful — it can be very profitable — but still not be a brand because, to go from being transactional to being transcendent, to establish an emotional connection with consumers — to have men and women extol the excellence you provide, and to have them enter an experiential space of performance art — involves the one thing no executive can accelerate and no marketing guru can manipulate, which is also the same thing no physicist can shorten and no mathematician can shirk, sidestep or squeeze: Time.


Building a brand takes time; and time requires patience, which is antithetical to human nature.

For we are, as a species, extremely predictable — and not in a good way — since, though we may acknowledge the need for a business to become transcendent, we have great difficulty transcending (or resisting) ourselves; all the sinful traits of mankind — all the vices described in the Bible, a religious tome to billions and a secular treatise for many atheists and agnostics alike — are inseparable from our very being, save a grand leap in evolution and a revolutionary change in the power and processes of the brain.

We are as much wardens and prisoners of our minds, too easily weakened by pride, anger, envy, greed, denial, sloth, violence and ignorance. When we do not repeat our mistakes, which we too often repeatedly repeat, we create new ones — all in a futile quest to find some secret password, some elusive rite of initiation or some talisman — some badge or armband to brandish before a select minority of the rich and powerful — to grant us the fruits of our labor . . . without having to expend an ounce of labor by ourselves for ourselves.

Secondly, a brand cannot tell a story, never mind attempt to tell “The Greatest Story Ever Told,” without magisterial prose that informs and inspires readers to do something; to spread the Gospel (literally), or to “evangelize” on behalf of all that a brand is, and all that brand promises to be, in an effort to convert consumers into adherents — to make them impassioned itinerant preachers of your personal virtues and your professional values — traveling near and far for a cause greater themselves.

Give them the tools, and they will finish the job.

More from Walden on Medium at: Walden on Medium

Reform Advertising

In the annals of the second edition of the 20-volume set about the modern history of advertising, and by modern I mean TV, radio, digital, online and mobile promotions, we are at the point — somewhere after the full-page magazine inserts extolling the health benefits (by 20,679 physicians) of Lucky Strike cigarettes, versus the results of “repeated nationwide surveys” that “More Doctors Smoke CAMELS than any other cigarette!” — in which, proceeding these great moments in truth in advertising andpreceding the next section about the profession’s artful, assertive and terse but memorable work (through the use of pop-up ads, unsolicited emails and sensational headlines) on behalf of pornography, herbal substitutes for Viagra®‎, over-the-counter supplements for breast augmentation, GIFs illustrating the sudden transformation (in length and girth, thanks to some plant-based solution) of the male reproductive organ and supposed guarantees for zero-percent interest credit cards from America’s magnanimous bankers, we arrive at this auspicious occasion; where, to update a phrase of moral health and martial vigor, and to speak with authority, logic and trust, “it has become necessary to destroy the advertising agency to save it.”



I volunteer for this mission, not because it is easy, but because it is hard.

I will remove all items of value, including glass, copper wiring and drywall, and drill specific columns, on specific floors, so I may insert sticks of dynamite or cartridges of nitroglycerin, and wrap the smaller columns and walls with a detonating cord.

I will lower the plunger on the detonator, giving onlookers on Madison Avenue in Manhattan, or disgruntled creative directors in Venice Beach, California, a sight to behold.

What we rebuild on that property, subsequent to approval by various state and federal agencies, and in accordance with the endorsement of numerous city planning commissions, should be something so novel — something so architecturally sound, in its strength and beauty — that the interior will be just as breathtaking as the exterior.


The answer to this existential crisis confronting the advertising industry is, if you will pardon the following superlative (from a business that does nothing but traffic in the use of outrageous, unbelievable and incredible assertions), an “insanely great” monument of information, research, statistics, surveys, data and commercial artistry.

Laymen call this place a library.

For, if you want to fix advertising, and if you want to produce exceptional reportage, outstanding newspaper editorials or terrific marketing copy, then you need to visit a library.

You need to become a reader, so you may become a writer.

Read the pros, so you may become a master of prose.