For a Good Job — For a Good Life

When entering college, students have a tough question to answer: what should my major be? If you look at the chart for 2010-2011 post-graduate earnings, the liberal arts don’t look very appealing. However, it’s not as bad as it seems. So, throw out your preconceived notions of majoring in English, because the humanities actually prepare students to succeed in the working world just as much as the “practical” majors.

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Specifically, professional writing and rhetoric majors have been given the tools of thought through deep-seated analysis and understanding processes. Rhetoric can essentially be broken down into signs that shape knowledge and play a critical role in determining what is right, true, and probable. And, in today’s society, being able to sell an idea by shaping knowledge is one of the keys to success. Professional writers and other humanities majors understand how to sell an idea because they are extremely good writers who have the ability to articulate and verbalize what they are thinking. So naturally, they will be successful. Right? Mark Edmundson, an English teacher at UVA, think otherwise. He says, “…the humanities are not about success. They’re about questioning success — and every important social value.”

This idea stems from Plato whose definition of rhetoric involved knowing the truths, principles, and nature of the human soul. By understanding and questioning one’s own social values and truths, you are able to pursue whatever you’d like. Edmundson says, “These students [humanities majors] are usually not in pursuit of traditional success. They have often been inspired by work they’ve encountered in humanities courses — and, for a time at least, they are choosing something other than middle-class corporate life.” But, don’t be confused. There are many humanities majors who continue on to the typical “middle-class corportate life.” However, Edmundson believes they join that world with more social and self-awareness.

The social and self-awareness, for professional writers, comes from how they’ve been taught to make decisions. Through the rhetorical situation, the available means of persuasion, and the rhetorical canons, (just to name a few) professional writers know how to interact and understand emotions, how to learn new information, and call an audience to action. Because professional writers have that foundation, they understand that not every situation can fit into a specific mold and one must adjust accordingly. Thus, professional writers in particular, are able to think of every important social value and pursue any type of career.

Edmundson finishes his article by saying, “What makes humanities students different isn’t their power of expression, their capacity to frame an argument or their ability to do independent work. Yes, these are valuable qualities, and we humanities teachers try to cultivate them. But true humanities students are exceptional because they have been, and are, engaged in the activity that Plato commends — seeking to understand themselves and how they ought to lead their lives.

Are you living a virtuous life? Are you questioning success — and every important social value? If not, I challenge you to.

Major in the humanities. Not just for a good job, but for a good life!

Click here for Edmundson’s article.


They Love It, Do You?

We all have brands we know and love. Brands that we could never imagine switching from, no matter what. Personally, I have a handful of brands that have become a sort of habit for me. I find myself going directly to them whenever I enter a mall, grocery store, or even when I’m shopping online. So, I decided to ask some of my friends what their favorite brands were and why they loved them.

Interview #1 – Tierney Guido

6026687201_bc002092ba“Nike!” There was no hesitation for Guido when I asked her what’s her favorite brand. When asked why she said, “It makes me feel confident. It makes me want to be a better athlete. Nike inspires you to keep striving, to be the best.” As a Nike supporter myself, I’d have to agree with her. Guido and I both agree that, when we are interested in buying a new pair of shoes, Nike is the first website we visit. The company allows you to design your own shoe, which gives the maker a chance to have a say in what the Nike brand is. It can make the user feel empowered and even more confident in the product they have fallen in love with. Not only are Nike shoes comfortable and durable, but the company has found a way into other markets. The Nike brand is another aspect of why Guido loves them. They inspire all athletes to feel confident in their apparel. Their advertisements and message they put out to consumers embodies what every athlete should strive for. The swoosh symbolizes more than a brand. It symbolizes how you can be better, or get better. Just do it.

Interview #2 – Grace Elkus

2720490429_b03a369097Elkus had a harder time deciding what her favorite brand is. She named a few, but upon further questioning and prying, we found that she would just as easily use another brand if it were more available than another. After a good ten minutes of discussion, she finally thought of something: the app and website, urbanspoon. She said, “it has a good ranking system for restaurants and has good category breakdowns.” Since she is a vegetarian, the category breakdown allows her to find restaurants that are vegetarian friendly. When asked about using similar apps like “Yelp” she said that she still preferred urbanspoon because of its design, it is much more pleasing to the eye. Urbanspoon is a great app and website that offers the user with a quick way to find food around their current location. The app even goes as far as to recommend the best dishes at the restaurant of your choice. So, get the app today and narrow your search…restaurant, city, neighborhood, cuisine…

Interview #3 – Tracy Raetz


Finally, Raetz said she started using this product at 13 and hasn’t switched yet! Her mother recommended it and since then it has become a habit. Raetz said, “I just remember it being a bid deal…and now it’s part of my routine.” When I asked Raetz if she had used any other products she said no. When prying further, I found that she feels clean and fresh after she uses the Clinique 3 step skincare treatment. “It works well,” is all she had to say. I visited the Clinique website after talking to Raetz to see if they would have a three step treatment for me. Turns out they have a full consultation survey, for free, where their website determines what kind of treatment would be best for your skin type. I’ll have to admit, I was tempted to buy what they recommended to see if what Raetz said is true, that you feel clean and refreshed after using it. But, I have a few questions about Raetz’s “habit”…had her mother bought her a different three step treatment when she were 13, would she still use it today? Has Clinique just become a habit or is it truly a brand she couldn’t give up?

Nike Image from Flickr user riddelt
Urbanspoon Image from Flickr user JillWillRun
Clinique Image from Flickr user seowjiayi1014

When Everyone Zigs, Zag.

The Brand Gap offers a set of five disciplines to help companies bridge the gap between brand strategy and brand execution: differentiate, collaborate, innovate, validate, and cultivate. While each assists in grasping branding and inspiring companies to take action, there is one discipline that stands out from the rest; innovation


Why Innovation?

A brand is a person’s gut feeling about a product, service, or company; it’s approximate, yet distinct. And today, with over 10million brands in the world, innovation is essential for a product, service, or company to be successful. It requires creativity and it lies at the heart of both better design and better business. Innovation is what gives brands traction in the market. It allows creators to abandon the comforts of habit, ignoring reason, and refuse to ask for approval of their peers. Now, companies, products, and services are able to think in fresh ways.


Though the idea of innovation is not new to me, I think the importance of it in  branding strategy today outweighs the other four disciplines. The most important concept to take away from innovation is “when everybody zigs, zag.” The only way to think of new things and push the boundaries and think outside the box. The creation of ideas is no longer a systematic pattern like A–>B–>C–>D, but rather V–>H–>X–>J. I think it is important to realize that the Most Advanced Yet Acceptable (MAYA) solution is now the best one. The more advanced, the most creative. Audiences are tired of the logical and typical business strategies. We want something that is new and magical.


Nike is the world’s leading innovator in athletic footwear, apparel, equipment and accessories. Their mission: to bring inspiration and innovation to every athlete* in the world. (*If you have a body, you’re an athlete). From the creation of Nike to now, the brand has remained distinct, relevant, memorable, extendable, and has tremendous depth. Regardless of if you’re a professional athlete, a high school benchy, or the casual walker, Nike has traction in a variety of markets. Recently, even considered Nike to be the most innovative brand of 2013. The company follows four rules that guide the company:

  1. To disrupt, you must go all-in.
  2. Anticipate a product’s evolution
  3. Direct your partners
  4. Feed Company Culture

To prove that Nike is an innovative brand, and that they follow these four company rules, they created the FuelBand Watch.


The FuelBand is an electronic bracelet that measures movements throughout the day, whether its tennis, jogging or walking. It has received great reviews from users for its elegant design and clean interface. It is easy to track activity with the simple color codes (red for inactive; green if you’ve achieved your daily goal). And there is one button used for scrolling how many calories you’ve burned and the number of steps you’ve taken. Nike also encourages users to share their data online further explaining how the company has transformed itself into a digital force. Breaking into a new market is difficult for any company to do, but Nike has done it seamlessly.


Granted, Nike is a gigantic company with a lot of resources, so it may be easier for them to continue to break the boundaries and create something fresh. It may be easier for larger companies to take a lot of time on creating a new product because they have the resources to do so. However, regardless of the size of the company, they need to make sure that they truly think about what the audience wants and finding the most advanced and acceptable (MAYA) solution to those needs. However, I think start-up companies may have an advantage of being more innovative since they don’t have any expectations from loyal customers. Start-up companies have the ability to be the best innovators since they may be closer to the audience and understand their wants.

Small vs. Large Companies

But, regardless of the size of the company, the most important thing is to be concrete on your brands image and message. You don’t want to overwhelm your customers with various brand messages and products that all do the same thing. Stick to one thing and be great at it. By being creative and innovative, it will allow your company to have a better product design and a better business. Make sure you think of these seven things when considering a name for your product, service, or company:

  1. Distinctive
  2. Brief
  3. Appropriate
  4. Easy to spell and pronounce
  5. Likable
  6. Extendable
  7. Protectable

You’ll know when a good idea hits you because it will “scare the hell out of you.”


The Brand Gap



Innovation Poster from flickr user Scraggy & Fluffy

FuelBand from Youtube user nike

It’s a Way of Life

Successful brands are the ones who sell personalities versus selling a product. Because selling a product is really about emotions, creating personalities/ lifestyles help consumers relate to the meaning of the brand, rather than just the object they’re selling. In today’s society, selling a personality or lifestyle should be creative and push the boundaries to engage the customer. No longer are the repetitious, irritating ads that try to force their way into a consumers life.

So, when comparing RedBull, Gatorade, and Mountain Dew, it’s easy for me to decide who has the best customer engagement…

#1 RedBull

To me, RedBull was  just another energy drink. Sure, their commercials and products can be easily identified but, overall I was never truly impressed by their brand as a whole. That was until I dug a little deeper. First, the RedBull  has one of the most well-organized and interactive websites I have stumbled upon over the past few years. They have close to 40 million likes on Facebook, 1.08 million followers on Twitter, and have put Instagram to use in the best way possible. RedBull is a company that sells a lifestyle and just happens to have a product attached to the name. They inspire their customers to have a zest for life and push beyond the limits. Their “commercials” are mini shows in between your regularly scheduled programming. They are invested in creating something that will leave an impression, and that is certainly something they’ve done successfully. After perusing their sites and watching their online TV channel, I wanted to be apart of their lifestyle. I became consumed in finding out more about RedBull and the things the brand has helped others accomplish simply by selling a way of life. And to be honest, regardless of how high-tech our society gets, people will always be fascinated by things that fly, so RedBull’s slogan is nothing short of perfect: It Gives You Wings.

#2 Gatorade

What I was sure would smash the competition, fell tremendously short. Recently, Gatorade has been trying to do too much. For one, they change their slogan every few months. Two, they are only selling a product. Three, it feels targeted to professional athletes. Though I am a fan of the actual drink, I think their marketing strategies are predictable and lacking creativity. Gatorade is so focused on having professional athletes endorse their brand that they forget about connecting with their target audience; those of us who play sports for fun, or in high school or college. So, though they may have a lot of star power, their customer engagement lacks considerably. They hardly have any contests and they fail to incorporate any events into their brand.

#3 Mountain Dew

A brand that has been struggling since it was first created, lands at the bottom of my rankings. Though Mountain Dew has increased its efforts and has tried to incorporate more new media, their website is confusing and hard to navigate, and they hardly advertise on television anymore. The only things I think about when Mountain Dew comes to mind is the “Dew Tour” and NASCAR. The brand’s online presence is lacking compared to the other two drinks and they have recently come under fire about what some are calling “the most racist commercial.” The only decent thing I found on their website were the “living photos” of some of their promotions. This is definitely not how you “dew.”

Is Traditional Marketing Dead?

A Shift is Being Made

Since 2002, there’s been a generational shift that has caused a 50% decrease in broadcast TV audience ratings. Younger viewers are moving away from traditional advertisements like cable or satellite services and towards wireless services like the Internet, that allow them to view on tablets, mobile phones, and laptops. Thus, advertisers are being forced to change their strategies to fit  the “new age of consumer engagement” which centers around web interaction, information, education, and choice. But first, how do you distinguish between the two?

Traditional marketing

  • Television commercials
  • Magazine and newspaper ads
  • Broad advertisements meant for mass appeal and wide distribution.

New age of consumer engagement

  • Social media
  • Peer influence and word of mouth
  • The seller needs to be present and engaged in places and at times that their buyers are.

What’s happening today?

Advertisers have to anticipate the needs of their consumers and provide the content to meet them. So, if businesses add a social aspect to their strategy, it will facilitate a more open, engaged, and collaborative foundation. Consumers are looking for just the right product or service to satisfy their unique desires at the precise moment online. Whereas traditional advertising is more of a one way street that focuses on a broad approach centered on mass appeal and wide distribution.


Now, the web has become a place for consumers to both browse and buy. Companies need to restore this idea of community marketing by replicating a “word of mouth” style of advertising online. For example, by adding social media sites to their business strategy, companies will be able to set up “Pages” on Facebook where consumers can advocate for products their purchase. They can also set up a Twitter account to keep their customers up-to-date on the latest deals and changes.

By getting consumers attention quickly on those social media sites, it will allow peer influences to develop and enhance customer satisfaction and brand resonance.  It will also allow companies to bring their product directly to the consumers.

My Opinion

I’ve been arguing with myself over the past few days on whether or not traditional marketing is dead. And what I’ve come up with is this — it’s situational — I don’t think you can look a global brand like Coca-Cola and say it should use the same strategies as a the company shops market (co-op) in Burlington, NC. However, I do think in today’s age that buyers are relying less on what the brands/services are telling them and more on word of mouth recommendations.

For example, this past weekend I went to Best Buy with the intention of buying some speakers for my apartment. I knew of a few brands based on their traditional forms of marketing, like TV commercials and ads in magazines. So, when entering the store I asked one of the employees to tell me about some of their speaker selections. They immediately brought up Bose, Beats, and JawBone, three companies I am familiar with based on both traditional adverting and this new age of consumer engagement. While, I stood there contemplating my decision, my friend began looking up customer reviews to provide more information. This is an example of how this new consumer engagement is driving transactions and enhancing experiences through relevant channels. So, after I read a couple of the customer reviews and based off my previous knowledge of the brands, I made a decision and purchased a speaker.

So, I think traditional marketing is a brand’s or service’s way of getting their foot in the door. Initially, by using TV, magazine, and newspaper ads, you get consumers to recognize your brand. And then, by adding a the social aspect to business strategies, it allows consumers to make their own choices based on what is provided on wireless devices that allow for web interaction, information, and education. Essentially, more content by the advertiser will drive action by the consumer.

The information was provided from articles by:

Imaged used by Flickr user linkedmediagrp