One of Social Media’s Most Influential Members: Taylor Swift

Source: Taylor Swift

Taylor Swift may be a musician, but she’s also a social media master. The young celebrity has 72.7 million likes on her Facebook page, 64.5 million followers on Twitter, and 49.8 million followers on Instagram.

The key to her success is not in her numbers but how she approaches each platform. She posts different types of content on different platforms. She uses Twitter and Instagram to connect with her fans on a more personal level and to really create a strong public image, while Facebook is all about promoting her brand and her image with the public.

Swift has gained much positive attention from the public and marketers. She knows her brand and she lives that brand in her posts.

The person(s) behind these social media accounts frequently engage with the young and old, other celebrities, and us common folk. She has been known to reply to those who have reached out to her and often gives sound, mature advice.

The fact remains is that Taylor Swift pays attention to her customer base, i.e. her fans. She shows them that she cares. She shows them that she is involved. A lesson all companies should learn about customer satisfaction.

Even when Swift is interacting with other brands, she sometimes does it through social media. She recently posted an open letter to Apple on her Tumblr regarding the company’s decision to not pay royalties to artists for Apple Music usage. The letter convinced Apple to reverse that decision.
Social media is a wonderful public relations tool, but Swift has also used her account to create buzz for upcoming releases, including the summer 2015 release of Bad Blood, a song off her 1989 album, which premiered during the Billboard Music Awards. In the weeks and days leading up to the release, sneak-peeks were posted on Instagram of the slew of celebrities appearing in her cinematic video resulting in record-breaking views online. Posting images of the cast created engagement among followers because Swift had identified that her followers who aspire to be part of the squad.

Source: Taylor Swift
Source: Taylor Swift

Screen Shot 2015-12-20 at 10.41.36 PM


ModCloth Gives Consumers a Seat at the Table

ModCloth, the site is a time-suck, but there’s so much to look at. The other day I got an email with a 15% off offer that got me to waste over an hour clicking through items. For those of you not familiar, ModCloth is a sort of online boutique for women (and a few items for men). I love the retro-flair of the clothes, the unique housewares, and shoes! Back on topic… The other cool thing about ModCloth is their commitment to engaging the consumer. MMod Cloth Style GalleryodCloth customers are encouraged to post photos of them in their purchases, post feedback (positive or not) on the site and social media, and even vote on what the company should purchase and sell called Be the Buyer.

Screen Shot 2015-12-20 at 9.05.34 PM




Screen Shot 2015-12-20 at 9.06.53 PM


Millennial spending has been a hot topic of discussion of late. In the spring, the Pew Research Center published “The Next America,” which is a very impressive site that you should check out.  

In the U.S., people born between 1980 and 2000 now outnumber baby boomers, and their numbers are still growing because of immigration. This generation is already shaping American life.

Because of this, businesses like ModCloth are learning to change the definition of their customers. “They’re not just customers, they’re individuals. And it helps if you think of them that way.

I get emails from them 2 or 3 times a week showing what’s new, or alerting me of any promotions that I also see in my targets Facebook ads. It is really impressive how integrated their efforts are, but somehow I don’t find it quite on the level of annoying or invasive.

Rivalry Wins: Old Spice, New Post

As a fan of Wieden and Kennedy’s work for Old Spice, I was thrilled when I first saw the new “make a smellmitment” campaign ad featuring spokesmen Isaiah Mustafa and Terry Crews together in a commercial for the first time. Previously, both men have appeared in separate ads, with distinctive voices. In this piece the two engage in a battle about which product scent is better Timber or Bearglove. The spokesmen have been paired with a scent to be presented to the viewer as a reflection of the scents’ personalities and the character’s own voice from previous spots.

Since Old Spice began working with W+K in 2009, it has shifted to the role of the Outlaw in an attempt to break through the clutter of other men’s grooming competitors.

The first ad in this new path, The Man Your Man Could Smell Like, broke the rules by completely ignoring men. The ad put the dashing Isaiah Mustafa, shirtless, in front of women to talk to them about what their man is missing. It has continued to use this archetype to break the rules of more traditional men’s grooming product advertising to the point where other’s have changed their strategy to mimic the brand.

The Presidential Award for Candidate Branding, Barack Obama


The president has gotten a lot of attention for starring in a Buzzfeed video promoting called Things Everybody Does But Doesn’t Talk About. Obama has a history of embracing the internet and social media, creating a persona and voice that is integrated across all forms of communication. In 2008, he was even named Ad Age’s marketer of the year beating out Apple and other top brands.

“I think he did a great job of going from a relative unknown to a household name to being a candidate for president,” said Linda Clarizio, president of AOL’s Platform A, the sponsor of the opening-night dinner attended by 750 where the votes were cast.

“I honestly look at [Obama’s] campaign and I look at it as something that we can all learn from as marketers,” said Angus Macaulay, VP-Rodale marketing solutions “To see what he’s done, to be able to create a social network and do it in a way where it’s created the tools to let people get engaged very easily. It’s very easy for people to participate.” (from Ad Age)

Screen Shot 2015-12-15 at 1.56.14 PMScreen Shot 2015-12-15 at 1.55.04 PM

“Barack Obama is three things you want in a brand,” says Keith Reinhard, chairman emeritus of DDB Worldwide. “New, different, and attractive. That’s as good as it gets.” Obama has his greatest strength among the young, roughly 18 to 29 years old, that advertisers covet, the cohort known as millennials — who will outnumber the baby boomers by 2010. They are black, white, yellow, and various shades of brown, but what they share — new media, online social networks, a distaste for top-down sales pitches — connects them more than traditional barriers, such as ethnicity, divide them. (from Fast Company)

1024px-obama_logomark-svgThe presidential campaign logo, was really the first of it’s kind. It went beyond traditional campaign logos that consisted of a candidate’s name and some decorative elements and became a strong mark identifiable to voters without the use of the candidate’s name. The logo was created by Chicago-based designer Sol Sender.


The man has been used as a boost for other brands from Blackberry to Brooks Brothers. The entire first family at times can be a walking and talking look-book for J. Crew. But let’s not forget he is a polarizing public figure with a staff that controls how his brand is view by his target audience, which is as broad as the citizens of the world, to as narrow as a group of donors depending on the occasion.

Though, his politics can quickly divide us, it may be fair to recognize he has made a genuine effort to be a hip president, like the time he appeared on Jimmy Fallon to talk about student loans during “Slow Jams.”


Challenger brand, Mitt Romney, tried to follow Obama’s strategy instead of building his own. The end result was forced and awkward, like this Fallon “Slow Jams” clip.

Romney’s brand was also severely affected by this leaked video from a private dinner denouncing low and middle class Americans (Corn, 2012).


The strengths of Obama’s brand should be recognizability, consistency, approachable, and innovation.

His weaknesses tie him to the White House and politics in the United States and abroad. Some of his policies have been seen as overstepping the boundaries of his position with wiretaps, drones, emissions standards, and others. Saturday Night Live did a skit commenting on his affinity to push legislation through as executive orders due to the stalemate in Congress.

Screen Shot 2015-12-15 at 2.10.22 PM

Reebok Finds New Life in the Niche Fitness Industry

As someone who does Crossfit, Reebok is such a huge part of the gear we use everyday, but outside of that environment Reebok doesn’t seem quite as relevant. Recently, the brand decided to go for the niche market of group exercisers and launched a new logo in addition to their new focus.


The brand has only undergone two rebrandings since 1895. The latest brand created a more balanced and clean vector shape accompanied by a sans serif logotype unique to the company like the previous logos, so with over a century of the Reebok name in existence, it seems the brand has staying power.





Recently, Reebok has decided to shift its interests from general athletic apparel, like it’s competitors Nike and Adidas, to providing specified gear for types of activities like yoga, dance, aerobics and Crossfit. Since 2011, Reebok has sponsored the Crossfit Games, an annual event to determine the “fittest athletes on Earth.” Because of this relationship, most Crossfitters are fiercely loyal to Reebok.





The new logo is a little generic without the logotype. It looks extremelylogo-drive codigo-promocional-reebok-logosimilar to the Google Drive triangular logo. However, in application the logo can be integrated on footwear and clothing in interesting ways that elevates the aesthetic to something more unique.

Having the right gear is a large part of success in Crossfit. Reebok carries a very popular pair of Crossfit specific shoes called Nanos, as well as olympic lifting shoes also popular with Crossfitters.





As mentioned above, the Reebok “delta” is flexible and is easily added to many applications.


Because of the geometric simplicity of the brand element, the logo is both adaptable and updatable, but with something as simple as the delta won’t really require an update until it is time to drastically rebrand again.







Reebok and Crossfit has been growing a strong relationship since 2011. The Reebok brand is competitively protected by Crossfit and is becoming synonymous with the brand. The niche fitness company Les Mills has also signed a partnership with Reebok to produce Les Mills branded products. These types of partnerships will continue to protect the brand.

Social Media Meets Brand Redesign at West Virginia University

With the Ologie driven brand redesign launched in 2015, WVU adopted a comprehensive and integrated branding strategy that it has the potential to be implemented into every aspect of communication. As an internal member of the organization, I’ve had a unique view of the rollout — like getting to see the pros and cons and comparing standards against created pieces.

Most of WVUflying WV’s brand is centered around the mark known as the flying WV. This logo was created in 1980 by brother of the WVU athletic director, Dick, and Kansas City graphic designer John Martin for a mere $200. Martin created the logo to reflect the unique topography of the state, mountains. “When you put a W and a V together, you had mountains. They may call it the Flying WV but to me, it depicts mountains.”


WVU authorizes a large variety of products available in the marketplace. Through its licensing agent, the Collegiate Licensing Companyexample of licensed gear, WVU has more than 500 licensees authorized to produce merchandise bearing WVU trademarks. Prominent companies include Nike, Perry Ellis, Tommy Hilfiger, Upper Deck, and Victoria’s Secret.


While these third-party vendors may use the logo in a more relaxed manner, there are strict guidelines attached to the brand.

The scale of bold to traditional (like the one seen on the type specimen) is used in many parts of the style guide to help the designer identify proper elements for consistent messaging.

type guidelines

Bold is geared more towards recruitment materials to generate excitement and traditional for a more sophisticated topic or audience, such as alumni or donors.


 Also introduced was a new graphic element, diagonal lines. The unique part of the line is that it has been developed based on the angles of the Flying WV logo at 33.75 degrees.

The University’s web presence has not totally conformed to the new branding, but a few sites have been revamped to reflect the brand. Internally, there has been a push to update all high-level sites, with a focus on traffic of potential students, consistent with the new messaging.

Ologie identified these traits that well represented West Virginia University and created the brand’s foundation: pioneering, tireless, passionate, grounded, innovative, caring. From those traits the voice was created. The style guide promotes the use of verbs, especially those ending with -ing. There’s also some rules and examples that help to navigate the messaging — though they seem to be pretty subjective:

  • Be confident, without being arrogant.
  • Be bold, without being aggressive.
  • Be direct, without feeling trite.
  • Be challenging, without being implausible.
  • Be inspirational, without being sentimental. 

WVU magazineNewly created print pieces after the brand launch tend to adhere well to the new standards, however there are always outliers based on the public access given to brand elements. Non-designers and non-writers may be able to manipulate elements to their liking, but may stray from the set guides. Beyond the traditional web and print collateral. WVU has many social media profiles and a few mobile apps — though the number of apps has been greatly reduced with the implementation of responsive web design. One of the most notable apps is WVU gameday. This app, managed by the athletics department, features live game audio streaming, social streams, game day schedule of events, stats, weather alerts, and play-by-play information.

Social Media has also played a large role in WVU’s voice development. Tony Dobies is the social media strategist at West Virginia University and first took a step to unify the University’s social media presence using a ten-step process outline in his social media plan for the 2014-2015 school year .

  1. Create a university-wide guideline for personality and suggested voice.
  2. Create a set of university-wide social media goals that can be passed down to other colleges/departments.
  3. Create a social media users group.
  4. Create a student social media ambassador program.
  5. Re-develop our social media website.
  6. Start using Snapchat.
  7. Develop a marketing campaign around social media.
  8. Start “A Day in the Life” project
  9. Create a social media consultation process for colleges and departments.
  10. Develop ways to share success.

Dobies also created another article that detailed the immense success of launching the University Snapchat profile and how it is used to engage students.

So, after collecting this information it seems like West Virginia University is taking steps to become more consistent with messaging, however at this time items across all media vary widely. Personally, with such a massive brand I am unsure if all sources will be equally consistent due to third-party vendors and multiple units producing touch-points without much creative control from the central design office. No creative team would be able to analyze and approve each and every item on this scale. By doing a quick Google image search for WVU, it’s clear to see that a brand has many widely varied forms.

google image search



Planet Fitness: What is Gymtimidation?

LunkAs part of their series of No Gymtimidation ads, Planet Fitness released the ad “Hot” in early 2013. There are only a few I look forward to catching, but Planet Fitness’ (PF) “No Gymtimidation” commercials crack me up. As a person who has spent years on a health and fitness journey, I have personally seen many of these “lunks” at my gym.

My personal favorite this lineup is the “Hot” commercial, because I have been in the locker room seeing, as the commercial portrays, girls standing around looking themselves and each other in skimpy workout outfits and full makeup commenting among themselves how attractive they are. In the commercial a shy woman looks on in a towel until it cuts to the same woman speaking to the Planet Fitness employee at a Planet Fitness, she says “and that’s why I don’t like gyms,” referring to her horrific locker room encounter. The PF employee responds “well, we’re not a gym, we’re Planet Fitness.” The commercial wraps with upbeat guitar music and a voiceover reading the text on the screen “no gymtimidation, no lunks, just $10 a month.”

The umbrella idea behind the campaign is “the judgement-free zone” which is great because many less-than-fit individuals feel the, as PF calls it, “gymtimidation” of working out in front of other people. Planet Fitness’ director of marketing, Jamie Medeiros said in a 2013 interview with the New York Times that “only about 15 percent of Americans belonged to gyms, and that the company was focused not on trying to lure consumers from other facilities but on enticing those who had avoided gyms altogether. We go after the 85 percent who don’t belong to a gym now or who have never belonged to a gym.”

To me, the humor, placement, and message behind the ad make it great. It was named Business Insider’s Ad of the Day on January 9, 2013. I’ve enjoyed every ad in this series from PF and the agency responsible, Red Tettemer O’Connell & Partners.