Happy New Year

On behalf all of us at BrandMill, I wish you and your family a blessed New Year and offer you this Old Irish toast, ‘May all that you wish for be the least you get and may the best times you’ve ever had be the worst you’ll ever see!

May God bless you and yours.


Merry Christmas and Happy New Year

Today and every day, all of us at BrandMill wish you and your family and friends the peace and goodwill of this very special Christmas season.

If you’re still looking for a last minute Christmas gift for someone, consider these suggestions from author Oren Arnold:
To your enemy, forgiveness.
To an opponent, tolerance.
To a friend, your heart.
To a customer, service.
To all, charity.
To every child, a good example.
To yourself, respect.

We hope you have a blessed Christmas season and wish you every happiness in the New Year.


Immaculate Reception Marketing Memories

Sprint PCS Immaculate Reception Billboard

I’m so looking forward to tomorrow, December 23 because its the 40th Anniversary Celebration of the Immaculate Reception. I was 10 years old and was listening to the Steelers Raiders football game on the radio (local broadcast was blacked out) and heard the news LIVE!

What a thrilling end to a game that propelled the Steelers to future greatness. In addition, this single play would change a city and would forever be immortalized as the greatest NFL play in history!

Immaculate Reception Marketing Memories

Ranking just as high on my list of favorite Steelers memories, was back in December 1997 when as the Director of Marketing and Sales Operations for Sprint PCS, I came up with an idea to help us more effectively communicate our digital ‘call clarity’ position.

Sprint’s Immaculate Reception Print Ad

You guessed correctly – it was also around the same time as the 25th Anniversary of the Immaculate Reception.

To clearly position our new wireless phone service in a hyper competitive wireless phone market, I searched and found a high profile customer (football great Franco Harris) whose testimonial and personal brand matched up perfectly with Brand Sprint.

The marriage between Franco’s most famous play in football and Sprint’s unique selling proposition of digital call clarity, helped drive favorable awareness, considerable store traffic and effectively communicated our unique product positioning (the first and only digital phone service in the market). And, the timing was perfect.  The 25th anniversary of the Immaculate Reception coincided perfectly with our new product launch.

Franco Harris and Stephen Wayhart
25th Anniversary of Immaculate Reception
1997 Commercial Photo Shoot

Testimonials are one of the most effective methods of building brands, and Franco’s testimonial helped us to effectively pull together a strong brand building and sales effort.

Our strategy was so on target that Sprint PCS realized record store traffic and sales.

Now 15 years later, I’m proud to say our campaign – like Franco’s famous catch – has been immortalized by the NFL Network in its feature film A Football Life – The Immaculate Reception.

Click here to watch the entire video of the Show and be sure to check out the mark at 31:57 to 32:04 to see one of our ads!

Happy Anniversary Franco and thanks for the memories!

P.S.: See Case Study here. Also, many thanks to my boss Doug Cotton for giving the idea a ‘thumbs up.!’ And to photographer Harry Giglio, designers Kathy Kendra, Mark Power; Mike Cusick Sprint Director of Sales; and Sprint marketing partner Maria D’Abruzzo.

Click here to see a super video treatment of the 40th Anniversary Celebration and marker unveiling of the Immaculate Reception from Steelers.Com


AMA Pittsburgh Hospitality Marketer of the Year

Riley’s Pour House Owner Operator Jim Riley
and BrandMill Managing Partner Stephen Wayhart

We’re excited to announce that our great client and friend – Riley’s Pour House in Carnegie, PA – won the Hospitality Marketer of the Year Award from the Pittsburgh Chapter of the American Marketing Association.

At a gala luncheon held last week at LeMont restaurant, the Pittsburgh Chapter of the American Marketing Association, the region’s largest marketing chapter for over 60 years announced its 2012 Marketer of the Year award winners at it’s 6th annual event. And, Riley’s Pour House took first place honors in the Restaurant, Sports, Entertainment, Hospitality, Travel category. The AMA’s annual Marketer of the Year competition was open to any western Pennsylvania-based company, agency, not-for-profit, individual or government organization that developed, implemented, and achieved noteworthy results for a marketing campaign that appeared in the United States.

What’s great about this unique award is that this marketing competition is strictly performance based. And, it’s the third year out of the six years of the event that one of our clients have won this special award (FACT – Friends Against Counterproductive Taxation – Whiskey Rebellion II; Priory Hospitality Group – Grand Marketer of the Year)!

When we helped the Pour House with its Grand Opening back in February, we knew that we had to hit the ground running with not a lot of money or time since St. Patrick’s Day was just a few weeks away and we needed to put in place key marketing strategies, tactics and processes.

We quickly launched a Website, email marketing, social media and public relations plan that immediately drove brand awareness and we’ve never looked back.  In addition, key marketing operational decisions were made for the Pub to be smoke free, have nightly entertainment, reintroduce lunch, add WiFi and add a new chef all contributed to the Pub’s success.

For example, to date, we’ve nearly tripled sales – over and above the previous owner’s numbers – and we increased Website page views by a 27X multiple too!

All of our success helped us earn favorable and well deserved third party recognition too.

In the summer Riley’s Pour House was recognized as the ‘Third Best Pub – Best Irish Pub’ by Pittsburgh Magazine in their annual Best Restaurant’s Reader’s Poll.  A few weeks ago, we won an ‘Irish Echo Hospitality 50’ award in New York. And, just last week on December 7, we earned our third major ‘Shout-out’ of 2012 – Pittsburgh’s Restaurant and Hospitality Marketer of the Year!

Thanks AMA Pittsburgh!


Our Greatest Generation’s Branding Lessons

USS Arizona – Pearl Harbor

Today, we’re remembering ‘those who gave some and some who gave all’ for our freedom on this 71st anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor.  Thank you greatest generation.

When you think about the trials our Greatest Generation (GG) overcame to ‘win the big one’ and come home to rebuild America into a global super power today’s challenges seem to pale in comparison.

I’m honored to say that several uncles of mine served in America’s military during World War II. Two uncles in particular taught me many life lessons – verbally, but mostly non-verbally. My Uncle Lambert was in a tank division in the Battle of the Bulge and my Uncle Tunny was part of the Army’s rescue detail in Germany’s Concentration Camps.   Their actions communicated so much more than words.

These people lived through – and overcame – terrifying times including the Great Depression, World War II the Cold War and were bombarded by the rapid succession of technological breakthroughs.

My uncles and aunts as well (Nell and Vi) taught my brothers and me that a lot of good can come from having endured tough times.

They taught us that forging ahead through rough times forces you to focus on securing your essential needs and learning to find ways to effectively work together and help each other.

Many of my clients are worried about how the aftermath of a tough presidential election and potential ‘financial cliff’ will impact their families and businesses. Fortunately for me, I have the lessons of my Uncle Lambert and Uncle Tunny (and Aunts) to guide me when I need to lead my clients through troubled waters and help them build strong, tough brands.

The main lesson my Greatest Generation relatives taught me was that, “Tough times don’t last, but tough people (and brands) do,” but here are 10 more that can help you build a strong, tough brand.

10 Brand Building Lessons from Our Greatest Generation (GG)

  1. Be self reliant – The GG always took personal responsibility for their lives and were self reliant.  They never (or rarely) complained about self sacrifices (physical, material) they made for their families, friends or country. And, they didn’t demand, much less expect or ask for handouts.
  2. Have class – Whatever my relations lacked in money, but made up for it in class. My uncles and aunts were always kind, respectful and appreciative. They had self respect and manners. My Uncle Lambert would always tell us that us that you don’t need a lot of money to look good and to keep your hair cut, be clean and shave (‘don’t look like  a bum’) – hah!
  3. Be frugal and resourceful – The GG always did more with less, never ran up huge debt and lived within their means.  They were handy too – my Uncle Tunny could fix anything. He was a lifelong butcher in a grocery store, but could have made a good (if not better) income as an electrician, carpenter or plumber..
  4. Be humble – The GG accomplished a ton over their lifespan and didn’t brag about their accomplishments. They merely did what they were expected to do. My uncles helped to rid the world of Nazi Germany, but rarely talked about their wartime experiences (only if encouraged) let along patted themselves on the back.
  5. Honor your word and commitments – The true essence of any brand is how it delivers on its promises. My uncles and aunts kept their promises and loved their families with fondness and lifelong loyalty. They took oaths and vows seriously.
  6. Never give up or give in – My Uncle Lambert (with the support of my Aunt Vi and Uncle Paul) never gave up when wartime injuries crippled him (he eventually lost both legs and his voicebox). After he returned home he became a successful entrepreneur. He never quit or complained about his physical limitations. And, he always maintained his gentlemanly manner.
  7. Work hard for the greater good – The GG were raised to take care of themselves (self reliant), but not in a selfish way. They worked hard to not only make their families secure, but their family’s family too. And, they knew that their communities would be strong if they were strong.  They were always willing to help a neighbor or those less fortunate even if they didn’t have much themselves.
  8. Embrace challenges and build solutions –  My uncles and aunts were like the rest of their generation whereby they helped to build solutions to any challenges they faced. Think about it, this generation created social security, unemployment compensation, pushed for regulations in the banking industry, supported labor unions and more.  Look at the Fraternal Benefit (Insurance) Societies – all started by immigrants or first generation Americans who could not get insurance.  They pooled their resources and figured out the problem themselves. They got involved – they showed up.
  9. Keep things simple and do the right thing – The GG didn’t make their lives complicated. Life was very much black and white – right and wrong – which makes life a bit more easy.
  10. Be happy with what you have. The GG valued simple pleasures of family, friends, a good job and security. They enjoyed what they had and their state in life. They didn’t focus on or complain about what they didn’t have, but valued what they did have – how refreshing.

If you’re going through some tough financial or brand building times right now, embrace the values of the Greatest Generation.

A lot of it is simple, basic common sense.

Don’t make things more complicated than they are and keep things simple.

Don’t sit around and complain or wait for someone to help you (divine intervention). Help yourself.

Get up and do things – the right things.

Focus on the most important task/s at hand.

Keep on keeping on and keep fighting the good fight.