Michael Kraabel

Branding - Marketing - Creative Direction

Reviving Red White & Blue

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When we think of American beer history, names like Budweiser and Pabst Blue Ribbon often dominate the conversation. Yet, nestled in the annals of brewing lore is a brand that once held a cherished spot in the hearts of beer lovers: Red White & Blue. This brand, rich with history and cultural significance, is poised for a modern revival that promises to blend tradition with contemporary tastes.

The History of Red White & Blue Beer


Red White & Blue beer traces its origins back to the late 19th century. It was a product of the Pabst Brewing Company, which sought to create a beer that embodied American pride and the spirit of unity. The name itself—Red White & Blue—evoked a sense of patriotism and connection to the national identity, making it a popular choice among consumers during its heyday.

Throughout the mid-20th century, Red White & Blue enjoyed widespread popularity. Its appeal lay in its straightforward, no-nonsense flavor profile and affordable price point. This beer was accessible, unpretentious, and a staple at countless backyard barbecues and neighborhood gatherings. However, as the beer market evolved and competition intensified, Red White & Blue gradually faded from the shelves. By the late 1980s, it was no longer in production, becoming a nostalgic memory for those who had enjoyed its simple pleasures.

Personal Memories of Red White & Blue

For me, Red White & Blue holds a special place in my heart, tied to fond memories of family holidays and cherished moments with my grandfather. He was one of those tough-as-nails kind of guys who grew up working with his hands, enjoying the news from the comfort of “his chair,” with a preference for cheap beer and chewing tobacco. Easter was a particularly memorable time when the whole family would come together to create a unique gift just for him.

Every Easter, my mom would make up a big Easter basket using a laundry basket as the base. This wasn’t your typical basket filled with chocolate eggs and bunny-shaped treats. No, this was a grand gesture of love and understanding of what my grandfather truly enjoyed. The basket included a case of Red White & Blue beer, his favorite choice of snuff, and a variety of other small gifts that he liked. The sight of that laundry basket filled with his favorite things would bring a rare smile to his face, a testament to the simple pleasures he cherished.

These memories of my grandfather and Red White & Blue are more than just nostalgic reflections; they highlight the beer’s role in everyday life and its ability to bring people together, creating moments of joy and connection.

My passion for reviving heritage brands stems from a deep appreciation for the stories and traditions that shaped them. Breathing new life into these brands is about more than nostalgia; it’s about honoring their legacy while adapting to contemporary tastes and values. I find immense satisfaction in merging the past with the present, creating products that resonate with modern consumers while preserving the authenticity and charm that made these brands beloved in the first place. Through this process, I aim to bridge generations, fostering a sense of continuity and connection that transcends time.

The Modern Reimagining of Red White & Blue

As part of our latest Lab initiative, we are excited to announce the reimagining of Red White & Blue beer. This revival is more than just a nod to the past; it’s an opportunity to create a brand that resonates with today’s discerning beer drinkers while honoring the legacy of the original.

Brand Positioning:

The new Red White & Blue beer will be positioned as a premium yet accessible option within the craft beer market. Our target audience includes millennials and Gen Z consumers who appreciate authenticity, quality, and sustainability in their beverage choices. By leveraging its historical significance and aligning with contemporary values, RWB will stand out as a beer that offers more than just a great taste—it’s a symbol of American heritage revitalized for the modern era.

Key Benefits of the New RWB:

  1. Authentic Legacy: The reimagined Red White & Blue beer will celebrate its storied history while embracing modern brewing techniques. This fusion will create a product that feels both timeless and contemporary.
  2. Quality Ingredients: Today’s consumers are more informed and selective about what they drink. Our new RWB will use high-quality, locally-sourced ingredients, ensuring a premium taste that stands out in the competitive craft beer market.
  3. Sustainability: Environmental responsibility is a priority. The revived RWB will implement sustainable brewing practices, from water conservation to eco-friendly packaging, appealing to the eco-conscious consumer.
  4. Community Focus: True to its roots, Red White & Blue will aim to foster a sense of community. We plan to support local events, partner with small businesses, and create spaces where people can come together and share a RWB beer, rekindling the brand’s original spirit of camaraderie.

Updating The Red White & Blue Brand Identity

Updating the brand identity system for Red White & Blue involves a delicate balance between preserving its elegant simplicity and infusing it with contemporary flair. We aim to retain the iconic elements that made the brand memorable, such as its straightforward design and patriotic color scheme, while modernizing the overall aesthetic to appeal to today’s consumers. This means refining the logo with cleaner lines, updating typography for a more current look, and incorporating subtle, thoughtful details that nod to its rich history. The goal is to create a refreshed brand identity that feels both timeless and relevant, seamlessly blending tradition with innovation.

In reviving Red White & Blue, we are not merely bringing back an old beer; we are reintroducing a brand with a rich legacy to a new generation of beer enthusiasts. This blend of history and innovation will make RWB a compelling choice for those who appreciate both tradition and progress. Cheers to a classic reborn!

Creative Revolution – Reimagining Vintage Advertising

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Our latest Lab Challenge is called “Creative Revolution,” and it is an opportunity to travel through time to reimagine vintage advertising for the modern world. This initiative invites you to explore the roots of advertising, understand the historical context of past campaigns, and infuse them with contemporary sensibilities and creativity.

Creative Revolution is a project that invites marketers, designers, and creative enthusiasts to reimagine vintage advertising using modern technology and sensibilities. This initiative seeks to bridge the gap between past and present, offering a platform to explore the evolution of advertising while celebrating its rich history.

What is The Lab?

The Lab is a space for creative experimentation.  In the context of this challenge, it is a place where we blend the nostalgia of vintage ads with the innovative approaches of modern advertising. Some of our projects will involve taking contemporary advertising concepts and applying them to historical campaigns, while others will imagine entirely new ads set in past eras. It’s a fun and engaging way to delve into the history of advertising and see how far we’ve come.

The Creative Challenge

Modern advertising is more sensitive to inclusion and messaging platforms, focusing on diverse audiences and creating meaningful connections. In contrast, vintage advertising often centered primarily on the product and its benefits. By participating in The Lab, you’ll explore how these different approaches can be harmonized, resulting in unique and thought-provoking campaigns.

Here’s what this project aims to do:

  1. Deepen Historical Understanding: Gain insights into the historical context of vintage ads, including the cultural, social, and economic factors that influenced them.
  2. Enhance Creativity: Challenge your creative skills by reimagining old ads with new perspectives, ensuring they resonate with today’s audiences while honoring their original charm.
  3. Promote Inclusivity: Adapt vintage ads to reflect modern values of inclusivity and sensitivity, demonstrating how far advertising has evolved in its approach to diverse audiences.
  4. Foster Innovation: Experiment with blending old and new advertising techniques, learning how historical strategies can inform and inspire contemporary marketing.

What Types of Advertising Should We Explore?

The possibilities are endless, but here are a few ideas to get you started:

  • Classic Print Ads: Reimagine iconic print advertisements from the 1920s to the 1960s, updating their visuals and messages to appeal to modern sensibilities.
  • Radio and TV Spots: Take popular radio jingles or television commercials from the past and recreate them for today’s digital platforms, such as social media or streaming services.
  • Outdoor Advertising: Think billboards and posters from the mid-20th century, transformed with interactive elements or augmented reality features.
  • Product Packaging: Modernize the packaging design of vintage products, making them stand out on today’s crowded shelves while maintaining their nostalgic appeal.
  • Social and Digital Campaigns: Envision how classic ads would play out on today’s social media platforms, utilizing hashtags, influencers, and user-generated content.

Join the Creative Revolution

We invite you to submit your ideas and concepts for The Lab. Whether you’re a seasoned marketer, a design enthusiast, or someone with a passion for history and creativity, we want to hear from you. Share your suggestions for vintage ads you’d like to see reimagined or propose entirely new concepts set in historical contexts.

Submit your ideas and let’s take this creative journey together. The Lab is not just about looking back—it’s about learning, innovating, and creating something truly unique that bridges the past and the present.

Together, we can uncover the timeless principles of advertising and see how they can be transformed to meet the needs and values of today’s world. Join The Lab, and let’s make advertising history!


Submit Your Ideas


Hapu the Weaver and the Birth of Advertising

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Advertising, as we understand it today, has a rich and fascinating history that stretches back to ancient civilizations. Among the earliest known examples of advertising is the story of Hapu the Weaver, an Egyptian craftsman whose innovative approach to promoting his business has left an indelible mark on the annals of marketing history.

The Context: Ancient Egypt’s Flourishing Economy

In ancient Egypt, around 3000 BCE, the economy was thriving, driven by agriculture, trade, and skilled craftsmanship. The Nile River provided fertile soil for crops, while the surrounding deserts yielded valuable minerals and stones. Amidst this bustling economic activity, artisans and craftsmen like Hapu the Weaver sought to differentiate themselves in a competitive market.

Hapu was a skilled weaver renowned for creating exquisite cloth tailored to the desires of his clientele. To stand out and attract more customers, he devised a clever method to advertise his services, an effort that is often recognized as the world’s first known advertisement.

The First Advertisment

The papyrus in question is believed to date back to around 3000 BCE and was discovered in Thebes. It is written in hieratic script, a cursive form of Egyptian hieroglyphs, and reads as follows:

“To the people of Thebes,
Let it be known that Hapu the Weaver seeks the return of his servant, a weaver of great skill.
The servant, named Tjahapimu, is known for his excellent craftsmanship and is of considerable value to my household.
He was last seen near the market by the river, wearing a linen tunic and carrying a small pouch of weaving tools.
A generous reward of one deben of silver will be given to anyone who brings him back to the house by the Nile.
Hapu the Weaver, renowned for the best cloth woven to your desires.”

The Advertisement: Hapu’s Message to the Masses

Hapu’s advertisement was inscribed on a papyrus, a material made from the pith of the papyrus plant, which was common in ancient Egypt for writing. The message was simple yet effective:

“Hapu the Weaver, Where the best cloth is woven to your desires. Visit the house by the Nile.”

This message, though brief, encapsulated several key elements of effective advertising that are still relevant today:

  1. Brand Identity: By stating his name, Hapu established a personal connection with potential customers. This personalized approach helped build trust and recognition.
  2. Value Proposition: Highlighting that he weaves the “best cloth” emphasized the quality of his products, a crucial factor in attracting discerning customers.
  3. Customization: Mentioning that the cloth is woven “to your desires” indicated a willingness to tailor his services to meet individual needs, appealing to a broad range of clients.
  4. Location: Providing clear directions to his workshop by the Nile made it easy for interested customers to find him.

The Impact: Hapu’s Legacy in Marketing

Hapu’s advertisement was groundbreaking not only because it was among the first of its kind but also because it laid the foundation for many principles that still guide advertising today. His approach demonstrated the importance of clear, concise messaging and the power of appealing directly to consumers’ needs and desires.

By promoting his services in this way, Hapu likely enjoyed increased business and recognition within his community. His innovative spirit in using written communication to attract customers marks a significant milestone in the history of marketing.

Acknowledging Historical Contexts: A Sensitive Subject

It is important to acknowledge that ancient Egyptian society, like many ancient civilizations, was built on complex social hierarchies, including the presence of slavery. While this historical reality is deeply troubling, it is a part of humanity’s past. I personally oppose all forms of slavery, both historically and in contemporary times. Discussing historical events requires a sensitive and respectful approach, recognizing the human suffering involved while learning from history to ensure a more equitable future.

Lessons for Modern Marketers

Hapu the Weaver’s ancient advertisement offers valuable lessons for today’s marketers. Here are a few key takeaways:

  1. Simplicity is Powerful: Hapu’s message was straightforward and easy to understand. In an age where consumers are bombarded with information, clarity and simplicity remain crucial.
  2. Highlight Unique Selling Points: By emphasizing the quality and customization of his cloth, Hapu effectively communicated what set his services apart. Modern marketers should similarly focus on their unique value propositions.
  3. Accessibility Matters: Providing clear directions to his location ensured that potential customers could easily find him. In today’s digital age, this translates to having a user-friendly website and clear contact information.
  4. Personal Connection: Hapu’s use of his name helped build a personal connection with his audience. Brands today can achieve this through personalized marketing and authentic communication.

The story of Hapu the Weaver reminds us that the core principles of effective advertising have remained consistent throughout the millennia. By focusing on clear messaging, emphasizing unique strengths, and building personal connections, marketers can continue to craft compelling advertisements that resonate with their audiences. Hapu’s innovative spirit lives on in the ever-evolving world of marketing, inspiring us to blend creativity with strategy to achieve lasting success.

Embracing Technology in Marketing

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The marketing industry has always been a fertile ground for innovation, often driven by the latest technological advancements. In 2024, this trend shows no sign of abating. Instead, technology continues to act as a powerful disruptor, reshaping how we connect with audiences, craft narratives, and measure success.

While the adoption of new tools invariably raises concerns about job displacement, it also underscores a critical reality: the future of marketing hinges on our ability to harness these tools to generate bigger, bolder ideas.

Historically, each wave of technological innovation has sparked a mix of excitement and trepidation within the marketing community. I remember my initial resistance to WYSIWYG web editors, fearing that they would undermine the craftsmanship of web design. Similarly, the advent of AI-generated content raised alarms about the potential obsolescence of human creativity. Yet, time and again, these innovations have proven to be invaluable assets, not threats.

The integration of AI and other advanced technologies into marketing workflows exemplifies this dynamic. AI can analyze vast amounts of data to uncover insights that would take humans exponentially longer to discover. It can automate repetitive tasks, freeing up creative minds to focus on strategy and innovation. However, the human element remains irreplaceable. Technology amplifies our capabilities, but it is our creativity, empathy, and strategic thinking that drive meaningful connections with audiences.

Change, while intimidating, can be a catalyst for growth for companies willing to experiment. Embracing new technologies requires a willingness to step out of comfort zones and explore uncharted territories. This spirit of experimentation often leads to breakthroughs that set brands apart in a crowded marketplace. As marketing professionals, our role is to guide these explorations, ensuring that technology serves our overarching goals of creating more engaging and human experiences.

The proliferation of new tools and platforms makes it more critical than ever for experienced marketers to lead the charge. Organizations need individuals who understand that technology is a means to an end, not an end in itself. These leaders can discern which tools will enhance their strategies and which are mere distractions. Their experience equips them to navigate the complexities of integrating new technologies while clearly focusing on the human element that defines impactful marketing.

The Birth of Modern Advertising: Print and Radio

The advertising industry as we know it began in the late 19th and early 20th centuries with the rise of print media. Newspapers and magazines provided the first mass platforms for advertisers to reach a broad audience. The advent of radio in the 1920s further transformed the landscape, allowing brands to connect with consumers in a more personal and immediate way. These innovations disrupted traditional word-of-mouth and local advertising methods, setting the stage for a century of rapid technological advancement.

The Television Revolution: Visual Storytelling Takes Center Stage

The introduction of television in the 1950s marked another seismic shift. TV combined the reach of radio with the visual impact of print, creating a powerful medium for storytelling. Advertisers could now craft compelling narratives with sound, motion, and color, captivating audiences like never before. This era saw the birth of iconic ad campaigns that became cultural touchstones. Television’s disruptive impact was profound, as it reshaped consumer behavior and set new standards for advertising creativity and production.

The Digital Age: Internet and Social Media

The late 20th century ushered in the digital age, beginning with the rise of the internet. The 1990s saw the emergence of online advertising, with banners, pop-ups, and email marketing becoming commonplace. This period was marked by the transition from traditional media to digital platforms, offering unprecedented targeting and tracking capabilities.

The 2000s brought the explosive growth of social media, revolutionizing how brands engage with consumers. Platforms like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram allowed for two-way communication, user-generated content, and viral marketing campaigns. Social media’s disruptive power lay in its ability to create communities and foster direct interactions between brands and their audiences, forever changing the dynamics of consumer engagement.

The Mobile Era: Advertising on the Go

The proliferation of smartphones in the 2010s introduced yet another wave of disruption. Mobile advertising became a critical component of marketing strategies, with apps, mobile websites, and location-based services providing new ways to reach consumers. The shift to mobile required advertisers to rethink their approaches, emphasizing quick, impactful messages suited for on-the-go consumption. This era also saw the rise of influencer marketing, where social media personalities became powerful brand ambassadors.

The AI and Data Analytics Revolution: Precision and Personalization

In the 2020s, artificial intelligence (AI) and data analytics have emerged as the latest disruptive forces. AI-powered tools can analyze consumer behavior, predict trends, and automate content creation. Machine learning algorithms enable hyper-personalized marketing, delivering tailored messages to individual consumers at scale. These technologies have transformed how advertisers approach campaign planning and execution, offering insights and efficiencies previously unimaginable.

Data analytics, meanwhile, provides a granular understanding of consumer preferences and behaviors. By leveraging big data, marketers can refine their strategies and measure the effectiveness of their efforts with precision. This era underscores the importance of data-driven decision-making and the potential of AI to revolutionize every aspect of marketing.

What’s Next in Advertising Technology

As these emerging technologies continue to evolve, they will bring new opportunities and challenges for advertisers. The key to success lies in staying ahead of the curve, experimenting with new tools, and continuously adapting strategies to leverage the latest innovations. By embracing these technologies, brands can create more engaging, personalized, and impactful advertising experiences that resonate with the consumers of tomorrow.

Immersive Experiences: Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR)

Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR) are poised to revolutionize advertising by creating immersive, interactive experiences for consumers. AR overlays digital content onto the physical world, enhancing real-world environments with engaging visuals and information. Brands can use AR for virtual try-ons, interactive product demos, and gamified experiences that captivate audiences and drive engagement.

VR, on the other hand, offers fully immersive experiences that transport users to entirely virtual environments. This technology is ideal for storytelling, allowing brands to create compelling narratives that users can experience firsthand. VR can be used for virtual tours, immersive brand experiences, and interactive storytelling that deepen emotional connections with consumers.

Voice Search and Smart Assistants: Conversational Commerce

Voice search and smart assistants like Amazon’s Alexa, Google Assistant, and Apple’s Siri are changing how consumers interact with brands. As these technologies become more integrated into daily life, they offer new opportunities for conversational commerce. Brands can develop voice-activated skills and applications that allow consumers to interact with products and services seamlessly through voice commands.

Voice search optimization is becoming increasingly important, as consumers use voice queries to find information, make purchases, and engage with brands. Advertisers must adapt their strategies to ensure their content is discoverable through voice search and that their brand voice aligns with the conversational nature of these interactions.

AI-Driven Personalization: Hyper-Targeted Marketing

Artificial Intelligence (AI) continues to advance, enabling even greater levels of personalization in advertising. AI algorithms can analyze vast amounts of data to understand individual consumer preferences and behaviors. This allows brands to deliver hyper-targeted marketing messages that resonate on a personal level.

Predictive analytics, powered by AI, can forecast consumer trends and behaviors, enabling proactive marketing strategies. AI-driven chatbots and virtual assistants can provide personalized customer service and support, enhancing the overall customer experience. The next wave of AI innovation will focus on creating seamless, personalized interactions that build deeper relationships between brands and consumers.

Blockchain Technology: Transparency and Trust

Blockchain technology offers the potential to address some of the most pressing challenges in digital advertising, such as transparency, fraud, and data privacy. Blockchain’s decentralized nature ensures that all transactions are recorded on a public ledger, providing transparency and accountability.

In advertising, blockchain can be used to verify ad impressions and clicks, reducing fraud and ensuring that advertisers are getting what they pay for. It can also enhance data privacy by giving consumers more control over their personal information and how it is used by advertisers. As trust becomes an increasingly important factor in consumer relationships, blockchain technology will play a crucial role in building and maintaining that trust.

The Internet of Things (IoT): Connected Consumer Experiences

The Internet of Things (IoT) is creating a network of connected devices that can communicate with each other and with consumers. This technology enables brands to deliver highly contextualized and relevant advertising experiences based on real-time data from IoT devices.

For example, smart home devices can provide insights into consumer habits and preferences, allowing brands to deliver targeted offers and content. Connected cars can offer location-based advertising and services, enhancing the driving experience. The IoT will enable brands to create integrated, omnichannel experiences that seamlessly blend the physical and digital worlds.

Embracing the Future

From the earliest print ads to today’s AI-driven campaigns, disruptive technologies have continuously reshaped the advertising industry. Each new innovation has brought challenges and opportunities, pushing marketers to adapt and evolve. As we look to the future, the key to success lies in our ability to embrace change, leverage new tools effectively, and maintain a focus on creating meaningful, human-centered experiences. The next wave of technological advancements will undoubtedly bring its own disruptions, but with it, the potential for even greater creativity and impact in marketing and branding.


Rebranding Strategy

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Rebranding is a strategic initiative that involves altering the corporate image of an organization. It is a market strategy that can entail changing a brand’s name, symbol, or design to reestablish its presence in the market. Rebranding transcends visual updates, requiring a variety of strategic and operational efforts to reposition the brand effectively.

Levels of Rebranding

Rebranding can range from minor updates to complete transformations. A minor brand update involves slight visual tweaks such as adjusting the logo, refreshing the color palette, or modernizing typography. These changes extend to marketing materials, including brochures, business cards, and other promotional items, ensuring they align with the new visual identity. Website enhancements often accompany these changes to reflect the updated brand image.

A significant brand revamp involves more substantial changes, such as a major overhaul of the logo, brand colors, typography, and overall design language. This level of rebranding includes launching new marketing campaigns to communicate the updated brand message, redesigning product packaging to match the new aesthetics, and updating customer service protocols to ensure consistency with the new brand identity.

A full-on transformation, which may include renaming the brand, represents the most comprehensive level of rebranding. This process involves creating a completely new identity, which includes a new company name, logo, and brand message. Such a transformation often requires repositioning the brand in the market to target new demographics or geographical locations. Legal and administrative changes are necessary to update business registrations, trademarks, and other legal documents. A thorough communication strategy is crucial to inform all stakeholders—customers, employees, and partners—about the rebrand.

Reasons for Rebranding

The motivations behind rebranding are varied and often interconnected. Market repositioning is a common reason, aiming to target new demographics or enter new markets. By adapting the brand to appeal to a new audience or align with the cultural and market dynamics of a different geographical area, companies can expand their reach and relevance.

Competitive advantage also drives rebranding efforts. Differentiating the brand from competitors in a crowded market can enhance its visibility and appeal. Moreover, reflecting technological advancements and innovations within the brand can position the company as a leader in its industry.

Mergers and acquisitions frequently necessitate rebranding to create a unified identity for the combined entities. This unified identity signals a new direction and vision for the organization. Additionally, rebranding can serve as a strategy for reputation management, particularly in recovering from a negative event or public relations crisis. Updating an outdated brand image to stay relevant and contemporary is another important aspect.

Ownership changes, such as new leadership or the desire to remove personal identification from the brand, can also prompt rebranding. For instance, removing personal ties can make the company more appealing to a broader market or prepare it for a sale. As branding expert David Aaker notes, “Rebranding can breathe new life into a company, allowing it to shed outdated perceptions and reposition itself in the marketplace” (Aaker, 1996).

Throughout my career, I have managed several rebranding efforts, each driven by distinct strategic imperatives. For example, while working with a mid-sized tech company, we undertook a significant brand revamp to better reflect our innovative solutions and appeal to a younger, tech-savvy demographic. This included a complete redesign of our logo, website, and marketing materials, accompanied by a targeted social media campaign. Another instance was a full-on transformation and renaming of a family-owned business preparing for acquisition. The goal was to remove personal identification from the brand, making it more appealing to potential buyers. This comprehensive rebrand involved not only a new name and visual identity but also a repositioning strategy to highlight the company’s strengths in new markets.

Comprehensive Rebranding Efforts

Beyond design, rebranding requires extensive efforts to replace old branded items. This includes managing inventory to systematically replace old stationery, uniforms, signage, and packaging with new ones. Digital assets, such as websites, social media profiles, email templates, and mobile apps, must also be updated to reflect the new brand identity.

Internal alignment is crucial for a successful rebrand. Employee training programs should be implemented to educate staff about the new brand values, mission, and visual identity, ensuring consistent representation across all touchpoints. Developing internal communication plans is essential to keep employees informed and engaged throughout the rebranding process.

Marketing and communication strategies play a pivotal role in a rebrand. Launch campaigns are necessary to announce the rebrand to the public, and public relations efforts can generate positive coverage and buzz. Engaging with media and influencers helps to amplify the new brand message. Moreover, clear communication with customers about the reasons and benefits of the rebrand helps retain their loyalty and trust.

Stakeholder management involves informing investors and stakeholders about the strategic reasons and expected benefits of the rebrand. Ensuring that business partners and suppliers are aligned with the new brand direction is also important.

Legal and administrative tasks are fundamental to the rebranding process. Securing trademarks for the new brand name and logo, revising contracts, and updating business licenses and other legal documents are necessary steps. As branding expert Alina Wheeler asserts, “Rebranding is not just about changing a logo; it’s about creating a new promise to the market and delivering on that promise” (Wheeler, 2017).

Considerations for Renaming

The decision to rename a brand should be guided by strategic considerations. Ensuring that the new name aligns with the company’s long-term goals is paramount. Additionally, the name should resonate well in new markets or demographics and be free from personal identification or regional connotations to appeal to a broader audience.

The renaming process involves thorough research to choose a unique, memorable, and legally available name. Involving key stakeholders in the naming process helps gain buy-in and support. Testing the new name with focus groups and market research can gauge public perception and acceptance. As rebranding expert Kevin Lane Keller emphasizes, “A new name should convey the essence of the brand and its strategic intent, creating a lasting impression in the minds of consumers” (Keller, 2008).


Aaker, D. A. (1996). Building Strong Brands. New York: Free Press.

Keller, K. L. (2008). Strategic Brand Management: Building, Measuring, and Managing Brand Equity. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson/Prentice Hall.

Wheeler, A. (2017). Designing Brand Identity: An Essential Guide for the Whole Branding Team. Hoboken, NJ: Wiley.


Voyager DISTIL Methodology

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The Voyager DISTIL Methodology is a comprehensive approach designed to streamline project development and execution. It focuses on five key phases: Define, Investigate, Strategize, Transform, Implement, and Learn. Each phase enhances clarity, fosters innovation, and ensures successful project outcomes.

The Voyager DISTIL Methodology provides a robust framework for organizations struggling with change. By offering clarity, structure, and collaboration, DISTIL helps bridge the gap between the challenges of change and successful transformation. Whether in marketing, branding, or digital transformation, this methodology ensures that organizations can navigate change effectively, driving growth and innovation. With DISTIL, the path to transformation becomes clearer, more manageable, and ultimately, more successful.

Change is a formidable challenge for any operating organization. The inertia of established routines, resistance from employees, fear of the unknown, and the sheer complexity of orchestrating a transformation often hinder progress. Organizations struggle to find clarity amidst these challenges, particularly in areas like marketing, branding, or digital transformation. This is where the Voyager DISTIL Methodology comes into play, offering a collaborative and structured approach to navigating change.

The Struggle for Change

Organizations often encounter several obstacles when attempting to implement change:

  1. Resistance to Change: Employees are accustomed to familiar processes and systems. Introducing new methods can lead to resistance, stemming from a fear of losing control or a lack of understanding of the benefits.
  2. Lack of Clarity: Without a clear vision and well-defined goals, change efforts can become directionless. This leads to confusion, wasted resources, and fragmented efforts.
  3. Complexity of Transformation: Digital transformation and rebranding efforts are inherently complex. They involve multiple facets of the organization, from technology to culture, requiring meticulous planning and execution.
  4. Resource Constraints: Limited resources, both in terms of budget and personnel, can stifle the ability to effectively manage change. Organizations may struggle to allocate the necessary resources to support transformation initiatives.
  5. Ineffective Communication: Poor communication between stakeholders, teams, and leadership can derail change efforts. Misunderstandings and lack of alignment on objectives often result in inconsistent execution.

How DISTIL Bridges the Gap

The Voyager DISTIL Methodology offers a solution to these challenges by providing a clear, structured, and collaborative framework for change. Here’s how each phase of DISTIL helps organizations find clarity and drive successful transformations:


In the Define phase, DISTIL helps organizations establish clear, measurable goals. This foundational step ensures that all stakeholders have a shared understanding of the project’s purpose, scope, and desired outcomes. By setting clear objectives, the methodology reduces ambiguity and aligns efforts towards a common vision.

Key Elements: Project charter, goals, success criteria, stakeholder engagement.


During the Investigate phase, DISTIL emphasizes thorough research to understand the current landscape. This involves market analysis, competitor research, and stakeholder interviews. By gathering comprehensive data, organizations can make informed decisions and identify opportunities and challenges early in the process.

Key Elements: Market analysis, competitor research, stakeholder insights, SWOT analysis.


The Strategize phase focuses on developing a comprehensive strategy aligned with the defined goals. By formulating strategic plans, creating roadmaps, and setting priorities, organizations ensure that their efforts are coherent and directed towards achieving their objectives. Collaboration with key stakeholders ensures alignment and buy-in.

Key Elements: Strategic plan, project roadmap, resource allocation, stakeholder alignment.


In the Transform phase, DISTIL translates strategies into actionable plans. This involves designing solutions, creating prototypes, and conducting pilot tests. Iterative feedback and refinement ensure that the solutions are innovative and effective, addressing the specific needs of the organization.

Key Elements: Design prototypes, pilot tests, iterative feedback, refined project plans.


The Implement phase focuses on executing the project plan efficiently. Using agile methodologies, organizations can adapt to changes and ensure continuous improvement. This phase emphasizes effective resource management and progress monitoring, facilitating smooth execution.

Key Elements: Agile execution, resource management, progress monitoring, continuous improvement.


Finally, the Learn phase involves evaluating outcomes and learning from the experience. Post-project reviews, feedback gathering, and performance analysis help identify lessons learned and best practices for future projects. This continuous learning culture promotes ongoing improvement and innovation.

Key Elements: Post-project reviews, feedback, performance analysis, lessons learned.

Why the Voyager DISTIL Methodology Works

The methodology works because it provides clarity and focus by ensuring all stakeholders have a shared understanding of the project goals and scope from the outset. Its emphasis on thorough research enables data-driven decision-making, while strategic alignment ensures all plans are coherent and directed towards the project’s objectives. The methodology fosters innovation and flexibility through iterative improvements and efficient execution using agile project management. A culture of reflection and learning is encouraged, promoting continuous improvement for future projects.

  • Provides clarity and focus with a shared understanding of goals.
  • Enables data-driven decisions and strategic alignment.
  • Fosters innovation and flexibility with iterative improvements.
  • Promotes continuous improvement through reflection and learning.

Suitable Projects for the Voyager DISTIL Methodology

The Voyager DISTIL Methodology is versatile and can be applied to various types of projects, including product development, marketing campaigns, digital transformation, strategic initiatives, and process improvement. Whether developing a new product from concept to market launch, crafting and executing marketing campaigns, implementing technology solutions for digital transformation, developing long-term strategic plans, or identifying inefficiencies for process improvement, this methodology ensures projects are executed with precision and purpose, leading to successful outcomes.

  • Product development from concept to market launch.
  • Marketing campaigns aligned with brand goals.
  • Digital transformation projects enhancing business processes.
  • Strategic initiatives driving organizational growth.
  • Process improvement to enhance operational performance.


Building Trust Through Brand Trust Signals

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Trust signals are the various indicators and cues a brand uses to convey its reliability, credibility, and authenticity to its audience. These signals help build confidence and trust among potential and existing customers, influencing their decision-making process.

Establishing and maintaining trust with customers is critical for the success of any brand. These signals can significantly influence a customer’s decision-making process, determining whether they choose your brand over a competitor.

As someone who has built several successful brands over the years, I’ve found that integrating trust signals into your brand strategy isn’t just a tactical choice—it’s a philosophical approach to building lasting customer relationships. Trust signals are the subtle yet powerful cues that communicate your brand’s reliability, transparency, and authenticity. These elements are important in creating a foundation of trust. However, it’s important to remember that these signals must be backed by genuine practices and quality offerings. If your brand fails to deliver on the promises implied by your trust signals, it can lead to a catastrophic breakdown in customer support, ultimately damaging your reputation and success. It’s not just about showcasing trust signals but also about ensuring your brand consistently fulfills the expectations they set.

The Importance of Trust Signals

Trust signals act as a bridge between a brand and its audience. They are the markers that reassure potential customers that a brand is dependable and trustworthy. Trust signals come in various forms, including:

Customer Reviews and Testimonials: Positive feedback from existing customers can be a powerful trust signal. It provides social proof that others have had satisfactory experiences with your brand.

Certifications and Awards: Recognition from reputable organizations can enhance your brand’s credibility. Certifications such as ISO standards or industry awards serve as external validation of your quality and reliability.

Transparent Communication: Clear, honest, and open communication about your products, services, and business practices fosters trust. This includes straightforward return policies, pricing transparency, and openly addressing customer concerns.

Professional Website Design: A well-designed, user-friendly website can make a significant impact. A professional appearance and easy navigation signal that your brand is serious and reliable.

Security Seals and Privacy Policies: For e-commerce businesses, security seals (such as SSL certificates) and transparent privacy policies are crucial. They assure customers that their personal and financial information is protected.

Industry Perspectives on Trust Signals

Industry experts agree that trust signals are indispensable in cultivating a loyal customer base. According to a study by Edelman, 81% of consumers need to trust a brand to buy from them. Trust signals are seen as foundational elements in building this trust. Here are some key industry perspectives:

Transparency as a Core Value: Brands that prioritize transparency in their operations are more likely to earn customer trust. This involves being upfront about product sourcing, manufacturing processes, and business ethics.

Authenticity Over Perfection: Customers appreciate authenticity over a polished but insincere image. Sharing behind-the-scenes content, admitting mistakes, and showing the human side of your brand can strengthen trust.

Consistency Across Channels: Trust is built through consistent messaging and experiences across all customer touchpoints. Whether through social media, email marketing, or in-store interactions, consistency helps reinforce trust signals.

Implementing Trust Signals: A Guiding Philosophy

To effectively leverage trust signals, companies should adopt them as a guiding philosophy rather than isolated tactics. Here’s how to integrate trust signals into your brand strategy:

  1. Engage with Your Customers: Actively seek and respond to customer feedback. Use surveys, social media interactions, and direct communication to understand their needs and concerns. Demonstrating that you value their input builds trust.
  2. Showcase Customer Stories: Highlight real customer stories and testimonials on your website and marketing materials. User-generated content and case studies provide relatable and trustworthy proof of your brand’s value.
  3. Maintain Transparency: Be transparent about your business practices, from sourcing materials to pricing strategies. If an issue arises, address it openly and honestly, showing customers that you are accountable and committed to improvement.
  4. Invest in Professionalism: Ensure that your website and physical stores (if applicable) are professional, secure, and user-friendly. A professional appearance instills confidence in potential customers.
  5. Highlight Achievements: Display certifications, awards, and affiliations with reputable organizations prominently. These third-party endorsements act as powerful trust signals.
  6. Secure Customer Data: Implement robust security measures to protect customer data. Clearly communicate your privacy policies and the steps you take to ensure data security.

How Customers Perceive Trust Signals

Customers today are more discerning and value-driven than ever. They actively seek out trust signals when evaluating brands. According to a survey by PwC, 43% of consumers say they will pay more for a brand they trust. Here’s how customers typically perceive different trust signals:

Social Proof: Reviews and testimonials are seen as reliable indicators of quality and customer satisfaction. Customers trust the opinions of their peers and often look for reviews before making a purchase.

Third-Party Endorsements: Certifications and awards provide assurance that a brand meets industry standards. Customers view these endorsements as credible and confidence-boosting.

Professionalism: A professional website and seamless user experience suggest that a brand is well-established and reliable. Customers are more likely to trust brands that invest in their online presence.

Security and Privacy: Clear privacy policies and visible security measures are essential for building trust, especially in e-commerce. Customers need to feel that their data is safe.

Exploring Visual AI Platforms

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Visual AI platforms have revolutionized the way we create and interpret art. To showcase their capabilities, we’re comparing some of the leading platforms by using a universally recognized painting as our base: Leonardo da Vinci’s “The Last Supper.”

This experiment was run on June 6, 2024.

Background on The Last Supper

Leonardo da Vinci’s “The Last Supper,” created between 1495 and 1498, is significant for depicting a critical moment in Christian narrative: Jesus announcing that one of his disciples would betray him. This dramatic revelation captures the emotional reactions of the apostles, making it a powerful religious and historical artifact.

Artistic Techniques Ahead of His Time

“The Last Supper” remains a masterpiece not only for its religious significance but also for its groundbreaking artistic techniques. Da Vinci’s innovations in perspective, emotional expression, light and shadow, and anatomical accuracy set new standards for Renaissance art and continue to influence artists today.

Linear Perspective: Da Vinci masterfully employed linear perspective to create a sense of depth. The vanishing point is situated at Jesus’ head, drawing the viewer’s eyes toward the center and enhancing the three-dimensional illusion. The composition is symmetrically balanced, with Jesus at the center and the apostles arranged in dynamic groups of three, which adds to the overall harmony and balance of the painting.

Emotional Expression: Da Vinci broke away from the static and stoic representations common in his time by capturing the apostles’ varied emotional responses to Jesus’ announcement. This pioneering focus on human emotion added a layer of realism and relatability to the work.

Use of Light and Shadow (Chiaroscuro): Da Vinci utilized the technique of chiaroscuro, the use of strong contrasts between light and dark, to add volume and depth to the figures. This technique helped to create a more realistic and dramatic effect, highlighting the figures against the background.

Detailed Study of Human Anatomy: Da Vinci’s extensive studies of human anatomy allowed him to portray the figures with remarkable accuracy and detail, enhancing the realism of the scene.

Innovative Use of Medium: Instead of the traditional fresco technique, Da Vinci used tempera and oil on a dry wall, which, although it led to faster deterioration, allowed for greater detail and subtlety in the painting.

Testing AI platforms with universally recognized imagery offers a fascinating lens through which to compare their capabilities. “The Last Supper” by Leonardo da Vinci is an ideal candidate for this exploration. Its historical significance, intricate composition, and emotional depth make it a challenging and rich source for AI interpretation. By using this iconic painting, we can vividly see how different AI platforms handle the transformation of a well-known masterpiece into something entirely otherworldly, highlighting their unique strengths and creative potential.

The Prompt

To test the creativity and output of different AI platforms, we used the following prompt: “A surreal and captivating rendition of the Last Supper, with Jesus replaced by an extraterrestrial being. The alien figure, with large, almond-shaped eyes and a slender figure, sits at the head of a long table with various other alien species gathered around. Each alien has unique features, such as multiple eyes or tentacles. The background is a blend of celestial stars and otherworldly landscapes, with a hint of a spacecraft in the distance. The overall atmosphere of the artwork is mysterious and intriguing.”

DALL-E 3 (OpenAI)


–ar 16:9 –v 6.0 –style raw –s 50

Adobe Firefly


Using the original painting as the style reference.



The Results – So Far

Our playful test with “The Last Supper” as the base reference highlighted the strengths and unique capabilities of each visual AI platform. Each platform brought something special to the table. This exercise demonstrates that while AI can replicate and reinterpret classic art, the role of the designer remains crucial in guiding these tools to bring creative visions to life.

The Power of Generative AI in Imagery and Content Creation

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Generative AI is transforming the way we create imagery and content, enabling us to visualize concepts that were previously unimaginable. As someone who has managed hundreds of designers over the years, I’ve seen firsthand the unique styles and abilities each designer brings to the table. Yet, even the most skilled individuals are limited by their personal expertise and preferences.

Generative AI, on the other hand, transcends these limitations, offering a vast, unbiased canvas that draws from the entire visual library of the world.

A New Frontier in Design

Traditional design relies heavily on the individual skills and tastes of designers. Each designer has a signature style, a preferred palette, and a unique approach to visual storytelling. This diversity is a strength, but it also means that the range of possibilities is inherently constrained by human capability. Generative AI shatters these boundaries, providing a tool that is not confined by personal biases or technical limitations. It can mimic an endless array of styles, merge disparate elements seamlessly, and create new visual languages that push the envelope of creativity.

Unbiased Creativity

One of the most compelling aspects of Generative AI is its lack of bias toward any particular style. Unlike human designers who might favor minimalism, bold colors, or intricate details, AI can generate content across the entire spectrum of artistic expression. This neutrality allows for the exploration of combinations and concepts that might never occur in a human-driven process. It taps into the collective visual knowledge of cultures, eras, and artistic movements, creating a rich tapestry of potential outputs.

Enhancing, Not Replacing, Human Designers

The advent of AI in design doesn’t diminish the role of human designers; rather, it enhances it. Designers are the creative minds that must learn to harness the power of AI, integrating it into their workflows to expand their creative horizons. AI becomes a collaborator, providing a wellspring of inspiration and executional support. Designers still guide the vision, make critical decisions, and add the irreplaceable human touch that AI cannot replicate.

A Historical Perspective on Technological Tools

Looking back, the design industry has continually evolved with technology. There was a time when pencil sketches, paste-ups, and hand-designed elements were the norm. Each new tool, from the printing press to digital software, was met with skepticism but ultimately became indispensable. These advancements did not render designers obsolete; instead, they brought designers closer to their end work, enabling them to realize their visions more efficiently and accurately. Generative AI is the latest in this lineage of transformative tools, promising to elevate design to new heights.

Embracing the Future

As we embrace Generative AI, we should view it as a powerful tool that broadens our creative capabilities. It democratizes design by making high-quality content creation accessible to those without extensive training while providing seasoned designers with a limitless palette. By integrating AI into their processes, designers can focus on conceptualization and strategy, leaving executional tasks to their digital counterparts.

Generative AI is not perfect, but its potential is boundless. It’s a reminder that technology, when harnessed effectively, serves to amplify human creativity. As designers, our role is to steer this powerful tool, combining our vision with the AI’s expansive capabilities to create imagery and content that captivate and inspire.

Here are the top 10 AI platforms for generative imagery in 2024, each offering unique features and capabilities to enhance your creative process:

  1. DALL-E 3: Developed by OpenAI, DALL-E 3 is known for its ease of use and high-quality image generation. It allows users to create detailed and imaginative visuals from simple text prompts​ (digitalcameraworld)​​ (Automate your work today | Zapier)​.
  2. Midjourney: Renowned for producing stunning, photorealistic images, Midjourney is a favorite among designers. Its active community and subscription-based model provide extensive support and resources​ (Automate your work today | Zapier)​​ (digitalcameraworld)​.
  3. Stable Diffusion: This platform is praised for its customization and control over image generation. Stable Diffusion is ideal for users who want to fine-tune their outputs and explore various artistic styles​ (Automate your work today | Zapier)​.
  4. Adobe Firefly: Integrated with Adobe’s Creative Cloud, Firefly offers a range of tools for image generation and editing. It’s particularly noted for its ethical approach, using only licensed and public domain images for training​ (digitalcameraworld)​.
  5. Canva AI: Part of Canva’s “Magic Studio,” this tool is perfect for creating a wide array of visuals quickly and easily. Canva AI is accessible to both professionals and beginners, offering a free tier for basic use​ (Piktochart)​​ (Semrush)​.
  6. NightCafe: Known for its artistic capabilities, NightCafe provides neural style transfer and text-to-image generation, allowing users to create unique artworks in various styles, from surreal to cyberpunk​ (Piktochart)​.
  7. Craiyon: Formerly known as DALL-E Mini, Craiyon offers unlimited free access for simple image generation tasks. It’s a fun tool for creating basic AI-generated images quickly and easily​ (Semrush)​.
  8. Snappa: This platform is tailored for social media content creation. Snappa simplifies the design process with a user-friendly interface and a wide array of templates, making it easy to produce striking visuals for various platforms​ (Semrush)​.
  9. ContentShake AI: Ideal for content marketers, this tool integrates AI image generation directly into its blog editor, allowing for seamless creation and inclusion of images within content​ (Semrush)​.
  10. Generative AI by Getty: This platform ensures the generation of commercially safe images, which is crucial for business use. It provides high-quality visuals suitable for a wide range of applications​ (Automate your work today | Zapier)​.

These platforms represent the cutting edge of generative AI in imagery, each bringing its unique strengths to the table. Whether you’re a professional designer or a casual user, these tools can expand your creative horizons and help bring your visions to life.

The Power of Mission, Vision, and Values Statements for SMBs

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For small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs), establishing a clear mission, vision, and values statement is more than just a create exercise; it’s a strategic necessity. These statements serve as the guiding compass for your brand, helping to focus efforts, align team members, ensure consistent communication, and build a cohesive company culture. Let’s explore why these elements are critical for SMBs and how they contribute to your brand’s success.

Focusing Efforts

A mission statement defines the core purpose of your business – what you do, who you do it for, and why you do it. This clarity helps prioritize activities and allocate resources effectively. Instead of chasing every opportunity, your team can focus on initiatives that align with your mission, driving meaningful progress and avoiding distractions. For example, if your mission is to provide eco-friendly cleaning products, your marketing, R&D, and customer service efforts will all prioritize sustainability and environmental impact.

Ensuring Everyone is on the Same Page

A well-crafted vision statement outlines where you see your business going in the future. It’s aspirational, providing a long-term goal that motivates and inspires your team. When everyone understands and believes in the vision, it creates a sense of unity and purpose. Employees know what they are working towards, and this common goal fosters collaboration and alignment across departments. A shared vision helps prevent internal conflicts and ensures that every team member’s efforts contribute to the overarching objectives.

Consistent Communication

Your values statement articulates the principles and standards that guide your company’s behavior and decision-making. These values serve as the foundation for all communication, both internal and external. When your team communicates from a singular point of view rooted in shared values, it ensures consistency and authenticity in your brand messaging. Customers and stakeholders receive a clear, unified message about who you are and what you stand for, building trust and credibility.

Avoiding Confusion

Without a clear mission, vision, and values, businesses risk sending mixed messages that can confuse customers, employees, and partners. Confusion erodes trust and can damage your brand’s reputation. By defining and communicating your core principles, you eliminate ambiguity and provide a clear roadmap for everyone involved with your business. This clarity ensures that all actions and communications are aligned, reinforcing a strong and coherent brand identity.

Building Compassion

Values-driven companies often cultivate a more compassionate and supportive work environment. When employees see that their company values align with their personal beliefs, they are more engaged and committed. This alignment fosters a culture of empathy, respect, and mutual support. Moreover, a strong values statement can enhance your brand’s appeal to socially conscious consumers, who increasingly prefer to do business with companies that share their values.

For SMBs, the importance of having a mission, vision, and values statement cannot be overstated. These elements provide a strategic framework that guides decision-making, aligns team efforts, ensures consistent communication, and builds a cohesive company culture. By clearly defining what your business stands for and where it is headed, you create a strong foundation for sustainable growth and success. Invest time in crafting these statements thoughtfully, and you’ll empower your brand to resonate deeply with employees, customers, and the broader community.

Overview of the Mission, Vision, and Values Statement Worksheet

Crafting clear and impactful mission, vision, and values statements is essential for any business aiming to establish a strong brand foundation. Our “Mission, Vision, and Values Statement Worksheet” is designed to guide small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) through this crucial process, providing a structured approach to defining their core purpose, long-term aspirations, and guiding principles.

Why Download and Use This Worksheet?

  1. Clarity and Focus: The worksheet helps you articulate a concise mission statement, ensuring that your team understands and focuses on your core purpose.
  2. Inspiration and Alignment: By defining a visionary future, the worksheet motivates and aligns your team around shared long-term goals.
  3. Consistency and Authenticity: A well-crafted values statement ensures all communications and actions are consistent and true to your brand’s principles.
  4. Comprehensive Guidance: Each section includes guidance and prompts to help you think critically about your business’s identity and direction.
  5. Engagement and Collaboration: Involving your team in this process fosters engagement and ensures everyone is on the same page.
  6. Continuous Improvement: The worksheet encourages regular review and updates, keeping your statements relevant as your business evolves.

Download the worksheet to start building a strong, cohesive brand foundation that will guide your business towards sustainable success.