Saturday, February 15, 2014

The Complications of Convenience

[guest post]

Recently I was drumming up sharable content for a client’s social media page when I came across an article about how hazardous cooking with microwave ovens is to our health. It piqued my interest and I clicked the link, thus entering that internet vortex we all know too well, where you click on a link, which leads to an article, which leads to a video, and so on, until you eventually come up for air and can't recall what day it is.

Ironically, shortly after reading that article, my ancient microwave had the electrical equivalent of a massive coronary and floated off to that big kitchen in the sky.

Since its tragic passing, I’ve realized I don’t really miss it. The few things I still relied on the microwave for, I quickly learned to prepare in another way. I love the extra counter space its absence has created. This led to noticing other things I am happy to be without. I never buy paper towels. Or napkins. Or dryer sheets. And countless other things that I, somewhere in life, decided were unnecessary expenses that cluttered up life and/or produced too much waste.

I gave some thought to how I came to own certain things, and why I purchase and use certain items or products. Surprisingly, few had solid rationale. How many things have you purchased simply because you didn’t have one, and it was on sale or clearance? Or it was being given away? Or someone insisted you needed one? I’d be willing to bet that of the items fitting that bill, most of them are grossly underutilized.

It’s human nature to associate things with status. Most people equate a bigger house or a nicer car to a higher level of achievement. We will always innately want more for ourselves, to continue growing and succeeding in life. A greater level of convenience is considered a byproduct of living well.

The same holds true for business. Often times we make our businesses more complicated than they need to be, causing clutter and creating waste in the name of growth and expansion. When, in fact, space and simplicity might actually serve us better. Sometimes it's scaling back, like eliminating a service offering or bringing your website back in-house, that shows true growth as a company.


Erika Block has been a professional writer, artist and art director for over fifteen years. She is the owner of Creative Studios, a branding and design agency exclusively working with the art, publishing and music industries. She runs an independent record label, documentary film company and art gallery/studio under the same name. Block also owns Creative Publishing, an independent publisher of creative genre books, eBooks and magazines, including the award-winning national print magazine, VIR·TU·OS·I·TY. You can find her online through

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Consistency Weighs in on Branding Results

So you have a goal for better health?  Here's the challenge: there's so much to do, and do consistently.

Be sure you get enough sleep, drink plenty of water, eat plenty of fruits and vegetables every day, do not consume fried foods or sugar, get your exercise, and take your vitamins. 

Personally, I have found it's hard to be consistent with all of these things. For a while I can fit in an hour of exercise 5 to 6 times a week and make better food choices, but portion control is a challenge. Then I work on portion control, take my vitamins and consume more water daily, but I get really busy and reduce the amount of sleep and exercise I get. As a result of the inconsistencies, better health (and weight loss) can be very gradual. Regardless of the inconsistency, an accumulation of weight loss eventually occurs. Steady exercise can build strength and improve energy, but if you interrupt your progress and exercise less, you can take a step backwards. Don’t get discouraged. The one thing I know is that my mom is right: never give up. With determination and motivation you can reach your goals. Short term willpower for temporary change is not the mission. Learning lifelong habits for lasting results is. Once the “should do’s” are being done consistently, faster results will come.
The same scenario holds true for branding your business. 

In order to achieve a healthy business (brand awareness, brand preference, loyal customers, and business growth…) you need to do several things consistently. Failure to do all things consistently will result in slow achievement of your goals and perhaps some setbacks. Never give up. Back up your quality product or service with an exceptional customer experience. Be consistent with your brand message and media strategy. Keep learning and working toward consistent marketing and you will get greater, long standing results.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Adapting Yourself to your Audience

One day my son wanted to wear something to school that could be considered a costume accessory. As a parent, I was torn between two things. On one hand, I wanted him to feel free to express himself creatively, to be who he is and not apologize for it. On the other hand, I was concerned that other children would tease him and break his heart. Ultimately I chose to express my concern and have him make his own choice. Aware of the possibility of being teased, he made the decision to wear what he wanted to.

The situation got me thinking about my own behavior, and how I may curb my language or change my behavior based on where I am and who I'm with. 

With family, I can express myself freely and be silly, but will eliminate words from my vocabulary in front of my children. With close friends, I can tell private stories, share a laugh, or disclose challenges. With clients and colleagues, I try to maintain my professionalism while still being approachable.

Are you the same way? Do you change your language or edit your behavior based on where you are and who you're with? What about on social media?
Especially when you're on social media for business purposes, think about your audience and what would be appropriate. Similar to my discussion with my son, should you be free to express yourself and say what's on your mind and not worry about the consequences or the reactions from others? Or should you be more conservative and express yourself in a professional manner? Ask yourself these questions and establish parameters for your businesses social media. Make sure your posts support your objectives and are in alignment with your brand.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Life and Business: Both a Future-Focused Journey

When starting out in life, our time is occupied by education, jobs, social plans, having fun and dating. For many, what follows is getting married, starting a family and raising children. Overall we are too busy to think about what we should be doing now that would impact our distant future. And then it happens. You turn 30, 35, 40, 45…and everything changes. Suddenly your health is not what it used to be. Your personal list of doctors has gone from one to six, and you realize it takes a lot more energy, time, effort and investment to maintain your health – not to mention the process of actually getting healthy first. You set aggressive goals and you wonder if you'll be able to reach them. You begin to feel a sense of urgency to take care of yourself in hopes of longevity so you can be present for your children.

A parallel existence occurs professionally. When starting out in business, your focus is on gaining customers or clients, placing orders and making daily decisions. With success, you might find you're looking for a bigger building, adding to staff, or improving processes. Overall you’re too busy to think about what you should be doing now that would impact your company’s distant future.  And then it happens. You’re in business for a year, then five years, then ten…and everything has changed. Your business model is outdated, your customers are getting older, the competitive environment is strong and potential customers are looking for new products and services. You used to make all the decisions, but now you need a half-dozen consultants and you realize it takes a lot more energy, time, effort and investment to maintain your business – not to mention growing it. You set aggressive goals and wonder if you will be able to reach them. You begin to feel a sense of urgency for business survival so your company can be your legacy to pass on to your children.

Lesson: Take the time, make the effort, consult experts, and invest in your (personal and business) health NOW. Make considerations for maintenance, remedies, innovation, growth and building strength for your future.