A Brand New Recipe For Branding

In a recent article, I told the story of when I was a young whippersnapper, attaining classes at what was then and still is called "one of the more famous hotel schools in North America", the marketing professor gave us an interesting, but quite challenging assignment.

We were to find a hospitality business that marketed itself by using the participation of the owner as part of the "distinctiveness" of the business. At the time, this seemed like a most difficult assignment, because in those days, it seemed that not too many people really stood out in this field. At least that what it seemed like to me in my youth. Or maybe it was just that they did not want to either make a fool of themselves. There seemed little need to drive the world to their door. I chose a very different restaurant enclosed within an old 19th century Mansion in this very cosmopolitan city. It was called Julie's Mansion and was owned and operated by a very eccentric, but wonderful showman who knew that he had to differentiate his restaurant from all the rest. He knew that the best way to do that – after the assumption of great food, entertainment and service – was to turn himself into the "brand."

My job, as a young hospitality student, was to watch him carefully and learn as much as I could. One Saturday night I showed up and Julie was trying to 'insert' himself into the home team's pro hockey uniform. It was immediately obvious that Julie had never played hockey. To see a middle-aged man struggling to get into and then have to have me extricate him from the jersey, equipment, elbow pads et al, was hilarious for a young guy like me, who had been on skates and playing the game since age four. He certainly was not afraid to make a fool of himself. When I showed up that night, he had less than no idea what piece of equipment went where, and was struggling with the shin guards. He had got himself all tangled up with what he thought were hip guards, when in fact they were shoulder pads, worn over the shoulders. It was indeed the first time I had ever seen a 'player' wearing shoulder pads, stretched around his butt.

I helped him get 'dressed'. Next came the taping of the hockey stick. This was really hilarious, watching this fellow trying to figure out the right way to tape a hockey stick without making a mess of it and looking foolish to his customers. He had a special plan for that stick.

I taped his stick and now he was ready. He had on his uniform, equipment and helmet, borrowed from one of the local NHL players who were a frequent guest at the mansion. Now, he actually looked like a real NHL hockey player … in black and white running shoes, sans skates!

Then Julie 'flew through' the different alcoves and floors of the restaurant with a big ball of foodservice aluminum foil as his 'puck'. He stick-handled in and out and between tables, took shots with the aluminum ball off the walls, cross-checked his own waiters trying to serve tables, all the while yelling cheers and the phrase made famous' round the world, by Foster Hewitt : "he shoots …. he scores!" All this, at the top of his lungs. Then he had planned for a horn to sound loudly indicating that the 'period of play' in his imaginary 'game' was over. It was now time to go to the dressing room. In a flash, just like an on-stage magician, he quickly disappeared into thin air, hidden in his office.

My face was covered in tears. I could not stop laughing! The restaurant was in an uproar. Guests were laughing so hard … one guy literally fell off his chair. The waiters were laughing, the guests were laughing, I was laughing and all the while Julie was having a ball too. Here was a restaurateur who made his work fun.

I had not met one of these types before. I really liked and respected this fellow. But I figured then, and still today, that anyone who had that much fun … and made that much money … must know something the others did not. And he did. He became his own brand. 'Distinctive. 'Differentiated. 'There is attractive to people who are sick of seeing the same old, same old every day. People are attracted to differences not similarities. Take a look at what you can do with yours. It's right under your own nose.

© Copyright, Roy W. MacNaughton, 2006

Making Your Commercial Website Work With Effective Web Design

The first thing about web design is to know the purpose of the website. This will then define the target audience of the website. Furthermore, this will dictate the appropriate look and overall web design.

Web Design: Connecting with Potential Customers

Commercial websites need to connect with potential customers. Websites are there to tell them about the products. So that’s what they should see in the website. They would be interested about what these products can do for them. Customers would want to know how they can buy the products. If they have questions they’d want to know how to contact you. And eventually they would be interested about the cost too.

In short, what a commercial website needs is a whole system. It’s like having a good store. You don’t only need a good display. You also need helpful salesladies and cashiers to complete the transaction.

To facilitate a good shopping experience, easy navigation is imperative. Relevant information about the company and its products should be easy to locate. A visitor should also be able to tell where he has yet to go to. For example, you have a repeat customer. He should be able to tell which products are new.

Links should be visible and clear. Titles for each link should tell what is contained there. The uncluttered look also always works for businesses. This gives the customers an easier way to take everything in. And it’s easier for them to choose where to go next.

The Other Side of Web Design

Web design also involves designing the under workings of the site. For instance, making sure that each page loads faster is essential. Customers value fast service. So, the site should open instantaneously if possible.

This does not mean that graphics and images are prohibited. It’s just a matter of providing the right file size.

Another part of web design deals with search engine optimization. Your potential customers should be directed to your site. It must therefore have high page rankings. One essential thing for that is proper HTML coding.

Content management may be related to web design as well. After all, visitors go to the website for the content. Relevant content should be provided to help the site get indexed. Updates should be done regularly to improve rankings. This also helps make customers come back to the site.

So essentially, the interface and the backend job of the web designer should correlate. Good web designers should also be conscious of the business aspect of it. Businesses want to build a business. So at the end of the day, it should be what the website should deliver.

SEO understands that getting sales is the main objective of every business. While SEO works to provide the best website design and development services, it works to provide the best Internet marketing as well. We focus on the needs of each of our clients. And in the end, we always bring in the desired outcome.

What is an Art Collector?

A collector would be someone very wealthy, collecting for love or money or both. It is sometimes someone who purchases on impulse. Collectors buy art because they enjoy beauty as a part of their life style. Sometimes collectors buy art to fill a void in their life.

What makes a great art collector? Having an unlimited amount of money helps but it is not essential. Some collectors treat it as a hobby: an intellectual and emotional joy which served the additional purpose of decorating one's private home. Since the end of WWII there is a different type of collector. They pursue their own passions however with an awareness that the whole world is watching. Their collections are a matter of public record and their prized possessions are on loan to other museums and companies for the entire world to see.

There are as many types of collectors as there are collections. To the avid collector, knowledge about art is far more important than money. Collecting art desires desires, passions and emotions. It speaks of addictions, obsessions and instincts. A collector can be someone who does not have huge resources of money. It could be someone who has a minimum wage income, and goes to local thrift stores looking for baby bottles to add to his bottle and glass collection.

A collector is also someone who has the courage to buy the work of an artist early in their career; when the artist is still virtually unknown. Anyone can buy the work of a known artist if they have the money. Some collectors are in love with their collections and say good night and good morning to their favorite painting. This is probably a little sentimental and extreme; however it is this passion that creates a great collector. Collectors treat their collections and take the same measures as a museum would do to protect its art. In some cases ceramics and marble statues are bolted down to protect against earthquakes. Certain collectors have high standards when buying a work of art. A work has to be museum quality.

The artist and the collector create a partnership or sometimes a whole; two people coming together to create one organism almost like a marriage.

Top 10 Celebrity Styles For 2008-2009

Every year we look to celebrities for fashion inspiration and new styles. Looking back over this year we can say that 2008 did not disappoint. Although some celebrities veered a little too far left of what is fashionably acceptable many others hit the bulls-eye. Even if you didn’t commit to any of the following trends, you can’t deny that they made statements in 2008. We have broken them down in order from 1 – 10 and let you know who owned that specific celebrity style.

Fashion Trend # 1: The Two-finger ring. This is one of the coolest jewelry trends we’ve seen in awhile. It has been spotted on famous celebrities such as Rihanna and Lauren Conrad from ”The Hills”.

Fashion Trend # 2: Baggy ”Boy” Jeans. This was a hit-and-miss look. It really depended on the body type of the person sporting the look. We think the new Baggy Boy Jeans should have a distressed and loose look, but should also be cut to show off a woman’s curves. This celebrity style was rocked by Reese Witherspoon and Katie Holmes.

Fashion Trend # 3: Nail Designs. Many celebrities decided to wear crazy colors on their nails this year. Those celebrities include Beyonce, Eve and Rihanna.

Fashion Trend # 4: Sky-Scraper High Heels. Every year high-heels get higher and more dangerous looking. If you don’t believe us just take a look at Victoria Beckham and Madonna.

Fashion Trend # 5: Pointless Accessories. Anything and everything was up for grabs to be an accessory in 2008. Just take a look at Miley Cyrus, Rihanna and Beyonce.

Fashion Trend # 6: Obama T-Shirts. For the first time we can remember political T’s were available and worn by the general public. Check them out on Halle Berry, Beyonce and P Diddy Combs.

Fashion Trend # 7: Nerdy Glasses. Geek-chic is a sure thing, when worn right. But be careful because dark, thick plastic frames aren’t a look everyone can pull off. If you want to see them worn right check out the celebrity style of Kanye West, Jay-Z and Common.

Fashion Trend # 8: Bangs. This look also doesn’t work for everyone, but when it does, watch out! Check out the bangs on Jessica Alba and Christina Aguilera…HOT!

Fashion Trend # 9: Leather Jackets. This look was taken straight from the 80′s, but worked great in 2008. Some celebrities rocking leather jackets were Vanessa Hudgens and Rihanna.

Fashion Trend # 10: Hippie Headband. Very few people can actually pull this look off. Personally, I’m not of fan of it on anybody. Some ladies sporting the hippie headband this year were Nicole Richie and Mischa Barton.

As you can tell there were many new celebrity styles this year, along with some re-tread styles. Every year we are amazed at what people bring back out of the closet and add to their wardrobe. No matter how much we may fight it, the looks always seem as glamorous and hot as they did before. We can’t wait to see what celebrity styles these people pull out next year. I guess we’ll just have to wait and see!