Monthly Archives: January 2015

SOJOURN NEW YORK & THE MET MUSEUM

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Energy floated in between everyone as we drank fast, sang loudly and laughed inevitably. 

Back in Jawga (Georgia), Sunday lunch was whatever my mom whipped up from scratch before the 9am church service. With 12 mouths to feed (not including the dogs), food was plentiful and afternoon naps were non-negotiable. I soon realized those cherish-able Sunday’s were now in existent for me once I crossed the Mason Dixie Line headed into the Empire State. My new buddy Phyl invited me to one of his monthly museum brunch tours at the Met Museum. Ordinarily, I invest my Sundays blissfully binge watching something politically suspenseful on Netflix. Needless to say, I needed to get out of the house.. So, my camera & I hopped in an Uber and headed to 86th street, where I will notably say I was not the last person to arrive. (I got lost, twice).

New York Met Johnny SelfNew York Met Johnny Self

Incidentally, my friends Mike and Tierra were there, too – my two favorite distractions. You’ve seen one museum you’ve seen them all. Walk. Point. Read. Put index finger on chin, pretend to analyze. Repeat. And in our case, pose (for the camera). The tour was fantastic, thanks to Jenna and her extensive art history knowledge.

New York Met Johnny Self

After an hour or two of walking, we were treated with a real New York view on the roof. Up there I caught Tierra gazing into the future. The every day artist’s future. Our future.

New York Met Johnny SelfNew York Brunch Johnny Self

3 black SUV’s were arranged to drop our group of 20 in front of Sojourn, a brunch spot on 79th street. Phyl reserved a section in the back corner for us where candles were already lit and the mimosas were promptly being poured. I had the chicken and waffles, Because I’m low-key ratchet and needed to fill a hometown void my stomach was latching for.


Ratchet: adj; Term coined by Atlanta natives to describe something that represents true urban stereotypes. (ie) Chicken & Waffles and just about anything Tyler Perry directs.


Speaking of ratchet, the owner even let us play our own music. (Seeing that 65% of the group was from Atlanta, I don’t think he knew what he got himself into).

New York Brunch Johnny Self

Energy floated in between everyone as we drank fast, sang loudly and laughed inevitably. We knew we had the restaurant’s attention when our waiter began to sing the 90’s childhood theme songs with us, too.

New York Met Johnny Self

Hello, New York. I like you.

5 Big Company Branding Strategies Any Business Can Utilize

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1. Develop all-encompassing brand standards.
Think, for a second, about everything you know about the Coca-Cola brand. Now, imagine that the company released a new purple can with the words “Coca-Cola” in a bold sans-serif font.

You can’t picture it, can you?

That’s because Coca-Cola has one of the clearest all-encompassing brand standards out there. Everything from the company’s packaging, its social-media profiles to its television commercials draws on the same colors, fonts, motifs and experiences. None of that is by accident.

A big part of Coca-Cola’s success comes from its ability to transmit feelings and expectations through its branded elements. When you see that red and white can, you know you’re going to get a crisp, refreshing beverage, no matter where in the world you’re buying it.

You can do the same for your company. Start by learning how to develop a comprehensive brand standard and about the mistakes many companies encounter when going through this process.

2. Dedicate a single person to guiding and enforcing brand standards.
Now that you’ve got a set brand standard, make sure it’s followed by appointing a single “brand czar” within your organization.

If you’re working on new packaging, this person should be involved. Same goes for the creation of any new marketing materials.

Your brand ambassador might even get involved in training your customer-service reps if you make exceptional service a part of your standard.

No matter how branded elements play into your company’s business processes, give this person the overarching authority to make changes — even if they aren’t convenient (or cheap).

Just like Coca-Cola wouldn’t let that purple can go down its assembly line, don’t let anything your company produces interfere with the standards you’ve set for yourself. Doing so will only create confusion and diminish the effectiveness of your efforts.

3. Embrace storytelling.
Want to see a great example of storytelling in action? Check out one of the “Find Your Greatness” campaign videos produced by Nike.

The video unfolds like a movie, features an unexpected protagonist and includes a moral lesson shared by an accented narrator. Basically, it’s got all the hallmarks of a Hollywood movie, packed into a single minute of campaign footage.

Related: 4 Branding Lessons That You Don’t Want to Learn the Hard Way

Harnessing the power of storytelling isn’t limited to the big brands alone.

Share the story of how your company came to be. Post case studies that show how you’ve impacted the stories of your customers. Forget about talking like a marketer and instead focus on sharing the things that make your company unique.

You’ll be amazed at how quickly your customers adopt these stories and spread them for you.

4. Take advantage of big data.
“Big data” is one of marketing’s latest buzzwords, but just because it’s “big” doesn’t mean it’s unattainable for smaller brands.

Chances are you already have a number of programs producing data for you, from Google Analytics to your customer-relationship management system and more. But are you actually doing anything with this data?

Start by figuring out what metrics matter most for your company’s success. Then, figure out how to extract reports from your data sources that will measure your progress towards these key performance indicators.

Once a month (or more or less frequently, depending on the length of your sales cycle), run your reports, read through them and make at least three changes based on what you find.

Don’t over complicate things, and don’t get overwhelmed by the amount of data you have access to. Begin with this simple process, but refine your approach as you get more comfortable harnessing the power of data.

5. Get involved in the community.
At its core, branding should draw people in. People who observe your branded elements should feel as if they’re part of a community, that they have a shared bond with others in the same situation.

Some big brands choose to make this relationship more explicit, as in the case of Expedia’s “Find Yours” campaign:

The campaign encourages participants to share their travel stories, creating a powerful sense of community amongst those featured in the videos, as well as those who view them.

No matter how you approach it, find ways to encourage your customers to share their experiences with your brand. It’s a powerful approach to community-building that serves the dual purpose of building brand exposure and awareness as well.

Aaron Agius
Search, Content & Social Media Marketer
Contributor to Entrepreneur

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