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The latest news on Branding from Business Insider

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    oregon campus

    The University of Oregon’s decision to cut back its multimillion-dollar branding campaign has many faculty at the institution cheering.

    The university has spent some $5 million in a campaign to rebrand itself, and until recently had the intention to spend another $15 million.

    But officials announced last week that the university is changing course.

    Instead of fundraising for another $15 million to put toward branding — part of a far-reaching $2 billion fund-raising campaign underway at Oregon  the university is canceling its existing contract with a marketing firm early and looking for ways to streamline and centralize its internal marketing programs in an effort to save money.

    Kyle Henley, vice president for university communications at Oregon, said the university's original goal of raising a full $20 million toward branding is “not realistic,” and that many of the objectives for which Oregon planned to use outside firms can be accomplished in-house.

    However that will require a much more coordinated marketing enterprise than currently exists at the university, where the branding efforts and staffs of most colleges and programs are separate from the university's central efforts.

    “Working in silos can only get us so far,” he said. “We need to be structured differently, and we need to have more coordination and increased collaboration across campus.”

    Henley and Michael H. Schill, who assumed Oregon's presidency this summer, announced the change of course during a faculty governance meeting last week.

    A donor had already contributed $5 million toward Oregon’s branding campaign.

    Much of those funds were used on a contract with marketing firm 160over90, which produced a campaign centered around the tagline “If.” The campaign aimed to get students interested in the potential opportunities of an Oregon education. The university opted to exit its contract with 160over90 early, which ultimately saved Oregon a few hundred thousand dollars, according to Henley.

    The change of course appears to have built good will among faculty members, many of whom complained the “If” campaign is too generic.

    A video for the campaign, for example, shows vague scenes and programs from Oregon's campus, and doesn't highlight with any detail the specific academic programs at the university.

    “The original campaign was inane and insulting, and we were really disappointed that the Board of Trustees and our former president decided to spend that much money on advertising instead of addressing the university's real problems,” said Bill Harbaugh, an economics professor and president-elect of the Oregon’s University Senate.

    Faculty input key

    university of oregonFor some faculty members, Oregon’s choice appears to be one that de-emphasizes marketing and instead strengthens the core of the institution.

    Henley says that while no existing funds are being shifted from branding or marketing to academics, streamlining the university’s communication arm will free up funds that can be used to strengthen academics.

    The decision, he said, comes at a time when the university is broadly looking at how it can align resources across campus to bolster academic and research endeavors. For example, a plan to cut 2 percent of the university’s administrative costs is expected to save $3 million annually — money that will be put toward faculty hiring.

    And not raising another $15 million toward branding will free the university up to raise more money for academic programs and faculty hiring, although, as Henley noted, $15 million in a $2 billion campaign is a “drop in the bucket.”

    “I’m thrilled with the switch to the focus on research and other academic programs,” said Robert Kyr, a music professor and former leader of the University Senate. “I would prefer that monies that are raised would be directed toward research and for teaching and for new facilities as needed, rather than branding.”

    Kyr noted how before Schill entered the presidency — and even into his first year — faculty began a strategic planning process aimed at refining the direction of the university. The faculty input in that process was crucial to developing buy-in for university goals, many of which are now widely supported because, according to Kyr, faculty feel they were listened to and involved in the planning process.

    oregon“You have the agreement and enthusiasm and commitment of the faculty because they've been included along every step of the way,” Kyr explained. This level of buy-in, he and other faculty members say, was not sought as the university planned the former branding campaign.

    “A branding campaign could be very helpful if it is directed toward the kinds of goals that the faculty supports in large measure. There would need to be a step-by-step process with the faculty to determine what it is that we would like branded,” he said. “For me, branding would have to tell our story in regards to the academic mission and goals and priorities.”

    This, according to Harbaugh, was not the case with the former Oregon campaign.

    “Nobody could figure what it was really about or what about it was specific to the University of Oregon,” Harbaugh said.

    “The university had a reputation for the Ducks as an athletic football factor kind of place, and [administrators] wanted to change that … which is good for them,” he continued, but “instead of actually changing the truth, they wanted to change the [optics].”

    Elizabeth Johnson, a partner at the higher education marketing firm SimpsonScarborough, which advises colleges on branding issues but played no role in the Oregon campaign, said in an email that faculty engagement is “essential” to a successful branding campaign

    “They have to understand and appreciate the strategy and the goals otherwise there will always be questions and naysayers in the background that can ultimately lead to the dismantling of the effort. That's pretty much what we're seeing here,” she wrote.

    When cutting is good

    oregon campusEric Sickler, a vice president for client services at Stamats, a higher education marketing firm, which does not work with Oregon, said many universities “have excessive inefficiencies and waste” in their marketing and communication activities.

    “There’s too many buckets of marketing dollars spread across nearly every campus in the country,” he said. He said Oregon’s decision to scale back its branding enterprise and reimagine its efforts “is a bold move.”

    And though less money will be spent on branding, Sickler says the university’s overall efforts don’t have to suffer.

    “Everybody wins. Dollars that arguably have been invested in a wasteful way because of the redundancies across campus can now be funneled into what is the heart and soul of every college and university in the nation, and that is the academic programs,” he said.

    “There’s no denying that it’s incredibly expensive for colleges and universities to compete as marketing entities in the world today. Media is ridiculously expensive and marketing is really a time-intensive enterprise,” Sickler continued. “But if they increase their efficiency, then they don’t really need that much of an investment. That’s the bottom line.”

    Henley says Oregon’s decision to scale back its branding campaign is not an indictment of the branding work done thus far.

    He praised the current campaign, including the video and other work done by 160over90, as a “strong foundation,” on which he believes Oregon’s in-house marketers can build.

    SEE ALSO: Florida governor wants to know why all psychology majors aren't employed

    Join the conversation about this story »

    NOW WATCH: Research reveals why men cheat — and it's not what you think

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    Kim Kardashian North West

    American baby names are getting increasingly unique. 

    In 1950, just 5% of babies had names outside of the 1,000 most popular, according to Wait But Why. In 2012, that went up to 27%. 

    But what should you name a kid, if not John, Paul, or Yoko? As Polly Mosendz finds at Bloomberg, more and more baby name consultants are springing up to help you name that child. 

     New York's My Name For Life will run you a couple hundred dollars. But others are way more. 

    The Switzerland-based consultancy Erfolgswelle — which started out branding of organizations — has moved into branding humans. The firm charges over $29,000 to name a child. Beyond finding the right name for a child, Erfolgswelle says that it will create the right name — with just the right rhythm and history to suit your scion. 

    Given how loaded of a choice a baby's name is, it makes sense that a market would spring up.

    Just look at the research.

    Names are a filter for race. One psychology study found that résumés with white-sounding names are rated as more employable than black-sounding ones.

    And they say a lot of about class: another study found that subbing a "kz" for "x" (like Alekzandra over Alexandra) happens entirely within lower-class families, and it correlates with the likelihood that a child will be held back. A British study has found that people with high-class names (Eleanor, in particular) are more likely to end up at posh Oxford University than a Jade, Oliver, or Simon.

    Gender plays a role too: boys with traditionally feminine names like Courtney or Ashley are more likely to have behavioral problems in school, and girls with traditionally masculine names (like Jordan) are more likely to go into science. 

    There is one commonality among names, regardless of how rare they are. No matter what, they'll get it wrong at Starbucks.

    Join the conversation about this story »

    NOW WATCH: Angie's List allows businesses that pay for advertising to appear at the top of search results

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    SoulCycle riders cycling

    It's not easy to amass a cult following.

    But some brands have managed to cultivate tremendous loyalty from their customers.

    Bizarrely enough, others looking to emulate this sort of success look to actual cults for inspiration, cult expert Rick A. Ross told Business Insider.

    Cults depend on strong ideologies, differentiating worldviews, and iconic leaders to hook their followers.

    These brands have managed to figure all that out. There's one brand on this list, though, that recently lost its formerly loyal following a major crisis.

    Danielle Schlanger and Kim Bhasin contributed to an earlier version of this story.

    SEE ALSO: SoulCycle and Harley Davidson will always have this in common


    The brand got a shout-out on a Harvard Divinity School document called "How We Gather," crediting the brand for creating a strong community. 

    SoulCycle acolytes wait until the clock strikes 12 on Mondays to sign up for classes. There's even an entire culture built around "earning" your way to the front row of the class.

    "People talk about SoulCycle as a cult. My feeling is that SoulCycle makes you feel great," the fitness chain's founder, Julie Rice, told Los Angeles Magazine in an interview in 2014. "When we feel great, we become obsessed with what makes us feel great."


    Founder Greg Glassman explained to Business Insider that the brand amassed the following and community incidentally. The fitness company was featured in Harvard Divinity School's "How We Gather" list, which pointed out notable groups that fostered strong communities. Glassman even spoke at the Harvard Divinity School last November.

    CrossFit's social aspect is very strong and is certainly crucial to its success. "The social level is a vital part of what's happened, and it is why you might think this is a cult — you might think it's a religion," CrossFit founder and CEO Greg Glassman said in an interview. "The values are simple though, and we believe they are salient lifestyle choices that will make a profound difference in your life."


    You don't have to look much further than the hoopla surrounding every Apple product's release to recognize that Apple has a very loyal following.

    One way to amass a loyal following is to create a demon which the community can unite against.

    "If you paint a picture of a threat from the outside — you demonize a local god or you demonize a competitor like IBM — you create solidarity amongst your community because you have to unify to fight against an external threat," Douglas Atkin, author of "The Culting of Brands", explained to Business Insider. 

    See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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    The Insider Picks team writes about stuff we think you'll like. Business Insider has affiliate partnerships so we may get a share of the revenue from your purchase.

    Gary VaynerchukIn our world of constantly emerging social platforms, making money off of your creativity, personality and “brand” has never been more accessible. There are prolific Instagrammers, Vine comedians, and YouTube hosts who have all generated a following large enough to be monetized — so that they can make a living doing what they love.

    Gary Vaynerchuk is one of these people. Coming out of college, Vaynerchuk turned his family wine business into a multimillion dollar venture and generated a huge audience on YouTube on his video blog Wine Library TV.

    From there, Vaynerchuk became a prolific social media user and began VaynerMedia, a digital agency that has worked with brands including Budweiser, Pepsi, and Dove. Vaynerchuk credits much of his success to his dedication to these social mediums, and the access he has given to his audience has allowed for him to turn his personal brand into personal profits.

    If you’ve wondered how people like Vaynerchuk or Logan Paul on Vine or PewDiePie on YouTube get to where they are today, it’s not dumb luck. It takes effort, skill, and persistence in order to gain the traction that these personalities garner. While he has written for our site before on the subjects of entrepreneurship and finding your strengths, for anyone who has dreamed of turning their ideas and interests into a personal brand that can make money across social channels, Vaynerchuk has put together an online class now being offered by Udemy on just that subject.

    Building a Personal Brand by Gary Vaynerchuk gives students advice on how to hone in on their strengths, develop their story, and tell that story across social media in a way that will reach their desired audience. Over the course of 50 lectures Vaynerchuk presents the knowledge he’s gained through years of hustling both in life and online, noting that while success in the social sphere does not come without hard work and most certainly isn’t for everyone, we are living in a time when the opportunity is accessible to more people than ever before. 

    The course has been taken by almost 15,000 students already and has an impressive average rating of 4.6/5 stars. Enrollment normally costs $50, but if you used the code “MAYINSIDER” at checkout, you can gain access to the course at a 25% discount through the end of the month. If you want to pursue a career in the social media sphere, this course could be of great service to you.

    Building a Personal Brand by Gary Vaynerchuk, $37 (originally $50), available at Udemy. [25% off]

    READ THIS: Guys, these are the most comfortable jeans you'll ever wear

    SEE ALSO: A former Goldman Sachs employee has condensed an entire MBA into one online course

    DON'T MISS: This accessory fixes one of the MacBook’s biggest issues

    Join the conversation about this story »

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    bmw 866709_960_720

    Corporate logos often remain with companies throughout many eras of production. Over time, the meaning of the symbol at its inception gets lost.

    Some companies give their logos barely-noticeable double meanings to encourage us to look closer at them, increasing brand recognition. Others do it as a tribute to their hometowns or influence us subconsciously, or simply for fun.

    You may have noticed the hidden features of some logos in the past. It can be a satisfying experience, so we gathered 22 of the most surprising.

    Dominic Green compiled an earlier version of this report.

    FedEx — The FedEx logo hides an arrow in its negative space to imply efficiency and forward motion.

    Gillette — Look closely at the "G" and the "i" in this logo and you'll notice the razor-sharp cuts into the text, which represents the shaving brand's main product.

    NBC — The white space in the NBC logo creates a peacock — representing NBC's status as a loud and proud broadcaster.

    See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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    richard branson Wedding dressIt's fair to say that Richard Branson has taken a scatter-gun approach to his professional life since he started his first business in 1966. The mogul has since launched more than 400 companies under the Virgin brand. Virgin has plastered its name on everything from airlines, to wine clubs, to underwear.

    It should come as no surprise that some of these have become spectacular failures.

    It times of failure, Branson has said recognizing mistakes and recovering are essential skills for an entrepreneur:

    My mother drummed into me from an early age that I should not spend much time regretting the past. I try to bring that discipline to my business career. Over the years, my team and I have not let mistakes, failures or mishaps get us down. Instead, even when a venture has failed, we try to look for opportunities, to see whether we can capitalize on another gap in the market.

    Below are 15 examples of Branson's less successful ventures. Some lasted just months, while others were profitable for many years, until becoming victims of changing times.

    Mallory Russell compiled an earlier version of this report.

    SEE ALSO: RICHARD BRANSON: There was 'sadly nothing I could do to stop' Alaska Air's takeover of Virgin America

    Student magazine: Branson dropped out of school at 16 to start a magazine called Student.

    The first issue of student was released in 1968.

    "There wasn't a national magazine run by students, for students. I didn't like the way I was being taught at school. I didn't like what was going on in the world, and I wanted to put it right,"he told Business 2.0 Magazine.

    The magazine didn't run quite as well as Branson had hoped, so he started a record mail-order business that he advertised in the magazine. The mail-order business proved so popular that he ditched the magazine and opened his own record shop. He called it Virgin.

    Virgin Cola: In a major brand extension, Branson launched Virgin Cola in 1994.

    Virgin Cola was the most highly-publicized of Virgin's failed businesses. The drink, which was soft-launched exclusively on Virgin's planes and in its cinemas, managed to peak at a small but significant 0.5% market share in the US, according to The Guardian. Production of the drink stopped in 2012, after the US soft drink giants fought back.

    However, Branson enjoyed the failure: "I got to drive a tank into Times Square and also to create a cheeky bottle in the shape of Pamela Anderson,"he wrote in a blog post.

    "That business taught me not to underestimate the power of the world's leading soft drink makers. I'll never again make the mistake of thinking that all large, dominant companies are sleepy!"

    Virgin Vodka: Another Virgin drinks product which failed to take off.

    It was not just Virgin Cola, but the whole of Virgin Drinks (also launched in 1994), which turned out to be a failure, according to The Guardian. One of the most surprising of these products is perhaps Virgin Vodka.

    The entirety of Virgin Drinks — including Virgin Vines, Virgin Energy Shot, and Virgin Ooze (a fizzy alcoholic drink) — folded in 2007.

    However, Virgin Wines, which was sold to Direct Wines in 2005 and was bought out in 2013 by management, is thriving. It is on track to grow its business to £50 million ($73 million) by 2018, according to The Drinks Business.

    See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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    hungry jack

    What's in a name? Apparently not much when it comes to your favorite brands. 

    Companies in America often go by different names abroad. If you're looking for a Burger King in Australia for example, you're out of luck. 

    Sometimes it's due to franchising, sometimes because the meaning of the word is different elsewhere. Sometimes the change makes sense, sometimes it's so small it seems pointless.

    Here are a few dizzying examples.

    Lays — Walker's in the UK, Sabritas in Mexico, Tapuchips in Israel, and Chipsy in Egypt

    Diet Coke — Coca-Cola Light in Europe

    The word "diet" is not equivalent to "lighter in calories" in other parts of the world. More appropriately, it is called "Coca-Cola Light." The company also uses a different sweetener blend for each country, based on consumer preference. 

    DiGiornio — Delissio in Canada

    See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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    A  protester stands behind a banner at a demonstration against the Olympic Games near the Maracana stadium ahead of the opening ceremony for the Rio 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, August 5, 2016.  REUTERS/Sergio Moraes

    RIO DE JANEIRO — Rio Olympics organizers on Thursday put on a brave face as problems plaguing the first games in South America piled up, admitting preparations could have been better but sounding confident of eventual success.

    With a backdrop that includes the country's worst recession since the 1930s and an ongoing political crisis that has divided the continent's most populous nation, organizers are struggling with many aspects of the Olympics.

    From security and empty stands to problematic transportation, volunteer, and venue issues and even a lack of standard Olympic branding around the stadiums, the Rio Games are facing a myriad problems five days into competition.

    "It is clear that everything we do in life, when we look back we believe we could do better," games spokesman Mario Andrada said on Thursday. "It is the first Olympics in South America and first sport event of this kind for the Brazilian public."

    "We reached the games in a very significant economic crisis," he said. "Political changes also affected the mood of the Brazilian people."

    When Rio was awarded the Olympics in 2009 the country was seeing near double-digit annual growth. Economic conditions, however, have meant organizers ran out of cash years before the games kicked off.

    The pending impeachment trial of suspended President Dilma Rousseff and her replacement, interim President Michel Temer, have further fanned discontent among Brazilians.

    Spectators, unlike in London in 2012, have not rushed to snap up tickets, and television pictures broadcast around the world show empty seats in almost every venue, with only the opening ceremony selling out.

    "I am not running away from the question," Andrada said. "Things could have been done better, and we'll learn from this and do better at the next big event, but we have no regrets."

    rio olympics protest

    Police shot

    Security was always a major concern, and armed robberies on athletes and media members as well as an attack with rocks on a media bus have only heightened fears.

    Shots were also fired in the vicinity of the equestrian center, with two bullets discovered there in the past days.

    In the latest security incident, gunmen fired on a military police car that strayed into the entrance of a slum not far from the Maracana Stadium, which will host the athletics competition in the city center.

    Three members of the patrol were wounded, one critically.

    Despite these problems, the International Olympic Committee, long criticized for handing the games to a country that is in more need of social welfare projects than stadiums, said the games would deliver on promises.

    "I am very confident they will be looked back on as landmark games," IOC spokesman Mark Adams said. "There are problems here — there are problems at every games."

    "With a global audience of 3 or 4 billion people it is the most watched event," Adams said. "What is important is how these difficulties are dealt with."

    (Reporting by Karolos Grohmann, editing by Neil Robinson)

    SEE ALSO: Here's how each country is doing at the Olympics

    Join the conversation about this story »

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    Amanda Peterson's job is a combination of professional brainstorming, air-traffic control, and linguistic ballet. 

    She's the Head of Naming at Google, which means that the appellation of every product that flies out the company's doors needs to pass her inspection first. Her exact role on every project depends on the team working on it:

    Sometimes people will want her to guide them through full-on strategy sessions, while in other instances she'll simply verify that a proposed name won't run into trademark issues, tread on an existing Google product, or mean something dirty in Swahili. 

    "I work with every character in Alphabet who needs help with names," she tells Business Insider. "It's this niche skill-set that's a resource for everybody." 

    Name dropping

    Not every name needs to feel like a real name.

    If the goal is just to help people find and use a product, the process is straightforward. For example, a cool plug-in or feature for an existing tool, like Gmail, might just be a widget with a purely descriptive label.

    But when something needs a name that tells a story, captures a certain personality, or fits into a larger brand, the process can require extensive discussion.  

    Amanda PetersonEach christening also requires a dance between linguistics and legal. 

    "Every brainstorm that I've ever hosted in my entire professional career, if you say, 'We're going to name something around "fast," I bet you I know the first 100 names that everybody is going to come up with," Peterson says. "And 99 of those are probably already a startup." 

    Creative names can require digging deep. Peterson has more than 350 reference books scattered around her desk, including ones for common names of animals, slang from the 20s, and the rules for "Dungeon and Dragons."

    "You don't know where you're gonna get inspired," she says.

    For example, the company's beacon technology, Eddystone, got its name from an old lighthouse that has been rebuilt and reengineered a bunch of times. It stuck because it had meaning on multiple levels (lighthouse = a beacon, this particular lighthouse was long-lasting and innovative), and because it had a techy-but-approachable feel that the team was going for (what's less intimidating than a dude named Eddy?).

    Aside from her affection for 'Eddystone,' Peterson is frustratingly tight-lipped when asked for what she considers to be the best names to come out of her two-year stint at Google, insisting that she simultaneously loves them all and doesn't want to take too much credit. 

    "I’m definitely the doula in this process, not the parent," she says. "I'm helping the teams articulate what they want to say. It's really theirs. It's about taking what they have and helping inspire them a little more."

    Plus, she adds, you can't really separate how you feel about the name of a product from the product it describes. 

    No rank-pull, unless you're Larry Page

    Before coming to Google, Peterson worked on branding and names at small agencies, large agencies, and in-house at tech companies Logitech and HP. But one thing that really sets Google apart she says is how un-hierarchical the process is. She's working with product people to decide on names, not looping in high-level execs. 

    At least, most of the time. 

    Larry PageOne of her most memorable sessions came less than a year after she joined Google, when she wound up presenting a name to CEO Larry Page. 

    "I ended up having this really personable conversation with Larry about a name he thought was 'icky,'" she laughs. When she explained the strategy behind the name he still thought it sounded "gross." What she had imagined would be a 20-minute meeting went on for about an hour.

    "He went through every name that I had on my back-up sheet that we had looked at. Instead of glazing over he looked at every single one. And gave us notes on each." 

    There were more than 200 names on that particular list, about average and significantly smaller than her Google-record of 9,000 back-up ideas. Page's attention to detail, deep passion for words, and casual friendliness impressed Peterson. She didn't feel like she was talking to a mega-rich CEO — just someone who really cared about a product (though she insisted that she wasn't allowed to tell us which one). 

    But on the flip side to those considered ruminations, Page isn't immune to snap judgments. Once, Peterson's team had had a name locked down for months, and one week before Google's giant I/O tech conference he heard another suggestion, liked it better, and decreed the swap.  

    Amanda PetersonLots of tools, few scrabble skills

    Besides the flatness of the process, Peterson's favorite thing about being a "namer" at Google is how many tools she has at her fingertips.

    Google has a huge linguistics team working on natural language process that can hook her up with automated sentiment analysis that's leagues quicker and clearer than her resources at other jobs. 

    "For the first time in my career I'm innovating what a naming process looks like," she says. "There are a lot of people who do professional naming, but I think something that makes me unique is I can look at a huge data set and find patterns in it."

    She nailed her interview because she came prepared with a huge architecture tree of every product that Google had publicly announced. She explained how she thought the brand hierarchy worked and even asked about the naming conventions behind a specific algorithm update that her interviewers didn't even know about. Being on the inside now though, she admits that she definitely reverse-engineered some naming strategies and relationships that didn't actually exist. Google has a lot of different, unconnected brands, making it notorious for having several products that all do basically the same thing.

    Keeping them all straight is no easy task, which is why, on the naming side, the company needs someone like Peterson to have a master list.  

    My job is so cool.

    A photo posted by Amanda C. Peterson (@gucked) on Jun 2, 2016 at 4:33pm PDT on

    Besides knowing the proper nomenclature of every Google product ever, Peterson's role as a professional namer means she has some special skills, like being a human thesaurus and killing it with weird random pub trivia questions (she's comparatively terrible at Scrabble because she's always spotting interesting fake words among her letters). 

    Oh, and she's an expert at getting people excited about their ideas. 

    "With every product, I'm like that is the best name ever. And then for the next product, I'm like no that is the best name ever. I think 9/10 of my job is being paid by enthusiasm," she says. "Really, choosing a name, at the end, no matter how great the name is, no matter how much research you have on it, it takes a leap."

    Here's the rationale behind — or what Peterson loves about — some of Google's names:

    SEE ALSO: Larry Page's grand plan for Google looks more like a mess than a success

    "Nougat"— the dessert-themed name of Google's latest operating system

    Google always names its latest edition of its Android operating system after sweet treats, but this one was a little confusing since people in the US generally say "new-gut," while people in the UK say "noo-gah." (Listen to the difference here.)

    What's up with that? 

    Peterson describes her involvement in that name as "very light," but she justifies the choice:

    "Our operating systems — as much as we make a big deal about them, and have statues about them — they're pet names," she says. "Most people see them in writing. The pronunciation difficulty there never gets in the way of understanding."

    Most people will just call it "N" anyway. Plus ... 

    "For people in the US, a 'nougat' is a bit more foreign, but it's a really common dessert in Europe," she adds. "I think sometimes people look at Google through a US lens without realizing what a big deal it is to make sure that we choose something most people who use our operating system will have had experiences with."

    Allo — Google's soon-to-be-released, AI-infused messaging app

    "Allo is a fun, quick way to communicate so we needed a fun, quick name just in its style," she says. "It sounds like 'hello' — not just in American English, so it's got a bit of a global nod. But because Allo is a new thing — it's got pieces of chat, of a digital assistant, of a platform for doing stuff that doesn't already have a term that people know — it couldn't just be something straightforward like 'Google Chat.' That doesn't capture everything this could be in the future."


    Plus, "Allo" sounds good with "Duo."

    "My favorite part about the Allo name is that the team thought ahead to name Allo and Duo together from the start," she says. (Duo is Google's Facetime-like video chat app.) "They're different products that solve different problems, they do live harmoniously together. So the names fit what they each do individually well, but they also sound nice together due to the end rhyme on the O."

    See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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    brand web

    If you happen to leave your Jacuzzi to get a Band-Aid and accidentally get hit with a Frisbee and step in some Super Glue, not only do you have terrible luck, but you also have come into contact with a unique family of objects.

    There's no name for this family, but you've no doubt seen or talked about its members before.

    They are trademarked products that society has come to "genericize"— that is, we've collectively agreed the brand name is what the generic product is called. Hot tubs are "Jacuzzis," flying discs are "Frisbees," and plastic bandages are "Band-Aids."

    And there are dozens more you might never know are actually trademarked — Hula-Hoop, Rollerblade, and Scotch Tape, just to name a few. We throw these names around so casually, we fail to realize when we're not even using the real thing.

    But equally mysterious is how these brands came to stand in for the entire set of products in their category. To find out, Business Insider spoke with Andrés Mendoza Peña, a marketing and branding expert at the management consultant firm A.T. Kearney.

    Peña pointed to two specific factors that allow some brands to become the de facto name while others retain their generic title.

    1. The brand has to create or reshape a category or product type.

    2. The brand cannot be bigger than the product.

    If you consider the most popular genericized products, many of them were the first or best version of their particular category. Flying discs began with inventor Walter Frederick Morrison turning a Frisbie pie tin into a toy in the 1950s. Jacuzzi started out as an airplane propeller manufacturer but ultimately used the technology to create the leading commercial hot tub.

    To become the go-to name for a product, Peña says, brands have to capture people's attention. And they can do that either by being first, or by being the best.

    But there's a catch, he says, and that's where we get the second factor. Brands can't outshine their products and still expect the public to recognize the product as the hero. Apple is the perfect example.

    "They have been pushing the boundaries for new products and categories" for years, Peña says. As a result, Apple is its own respected brand. When the iPod came out amid a sea of generic MP3 players, people saw it as a singular product. Apple's device was so innovative that nothing else could possibly share its name.

    It's the same reason we don't call all tablet computers "iPads," Peña explains. Apple was the definitive pioneer in many of its product categories, but according to public perception, Apple is larger than those products. 3M is not larger in the public imagination than Post-Its.

    Companies tend not to like it when their products get genericized, even if the popularity might seem like a good thing. When people mindlessly buy generic but think they're getting a brand, the actual brand gets diluted and the company misses out on a potential sale.

    Not that customers are to blame. That's just how branding works. Create a great product at the right time, and it can be successful. But attain a certain level of success, and suddenly the brand takes on a life of its own.

    SEE ALSO: Orange juice is being called a massive scam — and now it's disappearing from breakfast in America

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    McDonald's Ronald McDonald 2

    You probably recognize a lot of brands by their mascots.

    McDonald's has its clown Ronald, Wendy's has its pigtailed Wendy. The entire cereal industry has longstanding visibility in the American public largely because of mascots.

    But while they may seem larger than life, some brand mascots are based on real people.

    SEE ALSO: Here's some of the world's most adorable military mascots


    The redheaded, pigtailed girl in the Wendy's logo is indeed a real person, and she's still alive today.

    The mascot for the restaurant chain is based on Melinda Thomas, the daughter of Wendy's founder R. David Thomas. People reported in 1990 that Melinda beat out her other siblings in being the namesake of their father's restaurant chain.

    The eight-year-old's portrait, taken in 1969, became the iconic mascot for the brand.

    The Sun-Maid Woman

    The woman on the front of Sun-Maid rising boxes is a real person.

    According to Sun-Maid, the mascot was based off the image of a woman named Lorraine Collett Petersen, a 17-year-old girl from Missouri who was working as a seeder, packer, and promoter for a subsidiary of the Sun-Maid company in Fresno. In 1910, she was stopped in the middle of drying her hair and was asked to hold a basket tray of grapes for a watercolor portrait.

    Her face would first appear on Sun-Maid boxes in 1916, and would remain with slight changes over the years up until today.

    Uncle Ben's

    The Uncle Ben you see on the boxes of rice isn't the real Uncle Ben. But he did exist.

    According to the Museum of Public Relations, Uncle Ben was a black Texan rice farmer whose crop continuously won awards for its outstanding quality. 

    In 1932, German and British chemists Erich Huzenlaub and Francis Heron Rogers refined a process to make more nutritious parboiled rice and started the Converted Rice Company. The company itself didn't have any ties to Uncle Ben — he was dead by the time they started the company.

    But Huzenlaub and Rogers took Ben's name, leveraged his reputation, and named their product after him. The two based the mascot's likeness on a Chicago maitre d' named Frank Brown.

    See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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    It's time to shave the mustache.

    On Tuesday, Lyft is ditching its familiar pink mustache logo in favor of a more streamlined look. And the ride-hailing company is equipping its drivers with a sleek, glowing gadget designed to help customers quickly spot the car they ordered.

    The changes, which also include a new TV advertising blitz, add up to a major makeover that Lyft hopes will give its fleet of on-demand cars a more professional and universal veneer as it battles deep-pocketed rival Uber in the cut-throat ride-hailing business.

    Lyft's new gadget, dubbed Amp, will start to appear on drivers' dashboard in certain cities in the coming weeks. The cucumber-sized device uses Bluetooth to synch with a driver's phone and lights up in one of five colors to help passengers identify their vehicle.

    Here's how it works: 

    • Right now, Amp glows five different colors besides its default magenta: green, yellow, orange, purple, and light gray
    • Drivers pair the device with their phones and are encouraged to install its magnetic base on the middle of the dashboard of their cars
    • When passengers hail a ride in the app, Lyft will randomly generate a color for the Amp in the car. The app will show that color beaming off the animated car inside the app, as well as in the driver's profile, so riders know what color to look for
    • When the passenger gets in the car, a subtle screen on the back of the Amp will flash basic "hospitality" messages, like displaying a custom hello and goodbye to the passenger.

    Lyft Amp

    Goodbye, mustache

    The device marks a big departure from the furry pink mustaches that adorned Lyft vehicles when the company started four years ago, and some of the company's top executives see it as a sign that the company — which was most recently valued around $5.5 billion — is growing and changing. 

    "We’ve seen the branding of the company go through an evolution from that first big, fun, furry mustache that I think really encapsulated the spirit of the brand and the sense of irreverence as the dynamic, playful, personality-driven company," Lyft's creative director, Jesse McMillin, told Business Insider. "Functionally, it was really hard to use. It was a big furry thing that could get weather-worn; it was hard to apply. It was something that we wanted to update and change."

    The company rebranded in January 2015, swapping the original mustache — the Cuddlestache — for a new, high-tech version: the Glowstache. 

    But Lyft realized that the mustache logo itself no longer worked for the company. 

    "As fun and interesting as the mustache is, it’s a harder thing to recognize. It takes more storytelling to bring it to life." McMillin said.

    Lyft_Amp_06McMillin said that while the company isn't shedding its "whimsy," it wants to appeal to a broader audience. 

    "If you didn’t relate to the mustache, if that wasn’t something you were excited about, this kind of makes us more open to a wider audience," he said. 

    Lyft's new head of marketing, Melissa Waters, said ditching the company's logo was a "big step."

    "Internally, we had that moment of 'We’re retiring the mustache? It’s such a big icon for our company,'" Waters told Business Insider. "But this for me really takes everything to an entirely new level — it’s a multifaceted step. We not only are upping our branding in the car and our messaging in the car, we’re making ride-sharing’s first connected device."

    Lyft's main rival, Uber, has already tested out an idea similar to what Amp is trying to do. Last year, Uber piloted customizable LED lights in its vehicles to help riders find their cars in busy areas. Called SPOT, the program was only available in Seattle and has not expanded to other markets. 

    Taking it national

    Lyft will roll out the new devices over the next several months and will be in four markets by New Year's: New York, San Francisco, Las Vegas, and Los Angeles. The devices should be in all of Lyft's markets — more than 200 in the US — by mid-2017. The company plans to continue updating the device, adding color and pattern options or customizing the Amps to display sports team colors for different cities.

    Starting Tuesday, the company is also launching a national TV and digital ad campaign that satirizes a Lyft rival — it's anyone's guess which one — and touts Lyft's commitment to safety, in-app tipping, and more. 

    Waters calls the new campaign a pivot from tactics Lyft has tried in the past.  

    "We know that when you go from point A to point B, certain things are non-negotiable," Waters said. "But at Lyft...we feel like you have a choice in that moment to either go with a utility player who’s really only going to talk to you about the transactional nature of getting you there, or with us."

    SEE ALSO: Uber is still crushing Lyft in every major US city — but Lyft is slowly making progress

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    Terri Trespicio

    A recent episode of This American Life (#598: “My Undesirable Talent”) told the stories of people who had become really good at things they regretted.

    One of them was a guy named Zora, born to Ugandan parents and raised in Fresno, who went off to college and pretended to be an African exchange student. He did a whole Coming to America Eddie Murphy impression, first as a joke, and then, because so many people fell for it — and him — he had to sustain it for months.

    He had fun with it at first — mainly because playing the extroverted, fun, upbeat kid from Uganda, he found, earned him far more friends and attention than he’d ever earned as the sole black kid in Fresno. He liked this newfound personality and character, and so did everyone else. He was beloved.

    But, as you can imagine, he cracked under the pressure.

    Forming real relationships under the guise of being someone else (in effect, mocking everyone you now call a friend) is, I imagine, a terrific source of stress. Especially when one of them was a girl he really liked.

    When he finally broke character, his friends were thrown, but most recovered…except for the girl, who understandably felt mocked and betrayed. She was disappointed because he turned out to be, well, like every other dude. They were both hurt.

    The whole thing kind of reminded me of Mrs. Doubtfire. And Tootsie. Anyway.

    My point is this: How often do we get good at a thing because of what other people seem to want or need from us—and how long can and do we keep it up?

    Fine, Zora is an extreme example. But think about it: How often or for how long have you been doing a thing you’re good at, that you don’t even want to do?

    Because of the work I do in the brand space (ew did I really just say that) I know that there’s this level of weirdness that happens when someone fears they’re “pretending at” being someone or something else. There’s this whole panicky thing that happens. I’ve seen it. They worry that they won’t get “past” who they were or they don’t know who they are now.

    Your brand shouldn’t be some other fake, glossy version of you. It should be, well, you.

    Who you are now. And that that does change over time. It evolves. Like any organic thing.

    The less of a gap between who you are and what you represent, the less confused you will feel and the more powerful your positioning. I always say this about brand: It’s a blend of your promise, your presence, and your practice—in other words, what expectations you set, what you’re like to be around, or what vibe you give off, and what you do over and over again.

    So my warning is this: Don’t work hard at being a thing you don’t want to deliver on. Seems like a no-duh. But really think about it. Are you doing that?

    This is of particular concern for one-man shops, freelancers, solos, business owners who are looking to grow and shift away perhaps from what they’ve been doing, to what they want to do.

    Be wary of doing the things you can do, especially if you don’t want to do them.

    Whether that’s certain services or offerings, or even being the person people come to for “x” when you don’t want to do “x” anymore.

    The reason you may be afraid of doing this is because, like anyone, you’re afraid of turning business away. You think people are coming to you because of this one thing you do, even if you loathe doing it.

    It requires an act of bravery to come out as you, to do what will serve you, even if it’s not what everyone else expects.

    But what’s the alternative? Faking an accent so long you forget what you actually sound like? Bad idea.

    This post was originally published on

    Terri Trespicio is a New York-based writer and brand strategist, and the co-creator of Lights Camera Expert, a program to help experts and entrepreneurs get, and keep, media attention. Visit her at

    SEE ALSO: How to succeed when you're not good at anything in particular

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    howard schultz starbucks

    Starbucks' brand has taken a beating since the company announced plans to hire 10,000 refugees worldwide in the next five years in response to Donald Trump's executive order intended to prevent refugees from entering the US. 

    The coffee giant's consumer perception levels have fallen by two-thirds since late January, according to YouGov BrandIndex.

    The perception tracker measures if respondents have "heard anything about the brand in the last two weeks, through advertising, news or word of mouth, was it positive or negative." In Starbucks' case, perception is still overall positive, but significantly lower than it was prior to CEO Howard Schultz published a public letter outlining the company's plans to give refugees jobs. 

    "We are living in an unprecedented time, one in which we are witness to the conscience of our country, and the promise of the American Dream, being called into question," CEO Howard Schultz wrote in a letter to Starbucks employees about the plan.

    The graphic below shows YouGov's brand perception since October of last year. The red arrow points to when Starbucks announced its plan to hire 10,000 refugees. 

    starbucks perception

    YouGov says that there's reason to believe backlash will impact the chain's bottom line. Two days before Starbucks' announcement, 30% of consumers said they'd consider buying from Starbucks the next time they were craving coffee, the highest proportion in nearly a year. Now, the percentage is down to 24%, according to YouGov. 

    While many customers were immediately supportive of Starbucks' actions to support refugees, others threatened to boycott. 

    "Upon hearing about your decision to hire 10000 refugees instead of Americans I will no longer spend any money at Starbucks,"one such Facebook user wrote on Starbucks' page in late January.

    Some of this resentment seemed to be rooted in a belief that Starbucks was hiring refugees instead of veterans. Starbucks, however, does have a program in place to support veterans and their families, hiring 8,000 veterans and military spouses since 2014 — an initiative the chain has attempted to highlight in recent days and weeks online and on social media. 

    SEE ALSO: People are boycotting Starbucks after CEO announces plan to hire thousands of refugees

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     Slim James

    "All natural,""organic,""local,""handcrafted"— no doubt, the artisan food craze has gotten out of hand.

    At least, that's how writer and illustrator Dan Meth felt, which is why he decided to rebrand junk food to appeal to the organic mustache wax-wearing, only-local-buying hipsters.

    Meth was inspired to create this series after seeing a presentation by a graphic designer who designs "classy" food packaging.

    "I thought it'd be funny to see how her style would transform the way we think of junky, guilty-pleasure foods," Meth said.

    Meth, a self-professed health nut, decided to rebrand "the grossest items in the supermarket with the tackiest packages."

    "These are all items that I ate or would have eaten when I was a kid, but wouldn't touch now. I know that sounds snobby, but this stuff is poison!" he said.

    See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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    Supposedly 80% of the information we receive from a logo comes from the colors contained within it. That's because different colors evoke different feelings and emotions.

    Companies will often go to great lengths to make sure their logo perfectly matches their branding strategy. Google famously tested 40 different shades of blue in its logo to see which one performed the best.

    Some industries favor particular colors, like tech companies that predominantly use the color blue, or fast-food restaurants which prefer to use red.

    Read on to see why these brands are using certain colors in their logos. 

    The information in this article was sourced from Towergate Insurance's "Colour in Branding" infographic, plus our own research.

    SEE ALSO: Apple's new ad for iPhone stickers is filled with pop-culture references


    McDonald's uses red because it's seen as an energizing and stands out easily. It's even thought the color stimulates hunger, which may be why a number of other fast food brands use the color.

    Red is also often used to signal a sale, so many brands will use it in combination with a softer color like white or yellow to convey the properties of red without risking the perception the brand may be going out of business.


    With the use of green, which is often used to signal health and restoration, Subway looks to convey the values of freshness which it has put at the core of its brand.

    Yellow is also another color that can easily be spotted from far away and draw consumers to its restaurants.

    Baskin Robbins

    Blue and pink are often combined to promote sugary products since pink signals sweetness and playfulness.

    Carol Austin, VP of marketing for the brand told CNBC the logo is "meant to convey the fun and energy of the Baskin-Robbins brand."

    The logo also has a hidden message: The pink 31 in the logo stands for each day in the month that consumers can discover a new flavor.

    See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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    YouTube Nike

    It's an indisputable fact that no brand has driven sneaker culture like Nike. 

    It has connected running, hip hop, and streetwear, made athletes into legends, and helped change American attitudes on exercise. 

    Here's just a few of the ways Nike has defined "cool" in American culture since its founding more than 50 years ago.

    Drake Baer contributed reporting to an earlier version of this article.

    SEE ALSO: Nike's business is 'going to get darker before the dawn'

    1973: Nike signs its first athlete to an endorsement deal

    Steve Prefontaine, a 22-year-old known as "Pre," as he came to be known, was an elite runner.

    He set his first national record at age 15 by running two miles in 8:41:5. He held an American record in every long-distance event, from 2,000 meters to 10,000 meters, before his tragic death in a car accident at 24 years old.

    Pre signed his deal with Nike in 1974 for $5,000. The Nike brand was just three years old.

    With his flowing hair, punk rock attitude, and unprecedented success, Pre helped brand Nike as swaggering, dominant, and committed to athletic excellence.

    1970-1978: Nike helps popularize jogging

    Nike cofounder Bill Bowerman was a track coach at the University of Oregon. He was instrumental in luring Pre to the University of Oregon and having him sign on to Nike. 

    Bowerman was a huge proponent of running recreationally, or, as it would become known, joggingWhile it seems like running has always been popular, it didn't actually become a common pursuit until the running boom of the 1970s.

    "Certainly running was already popular among kids and athletes in the 1970s, but it wasn't the social activity that we see it as today,"says marketing analyst Garrett Moon."The growing white-collar workforce helped pave the way for social activities that included the promotion of cardiovascular health. Once the trend was ingrained, the need shifted and the 'jogging shoes' themselves became the felt need."

    Bowerman helped push running into the mainstream with "Jogging," a book he wrote with a medical doctor explaining the benefits of running recreationally. As a sportswear maker with a US market share of close to 50% in running shoes, Nike was able to benefit from this.


    1985: Nike launches the Air Jordan.

    No one could have predicted what Michael Jordan's Nike endorsement would mean for the brand. The first shoe the two collaborated on, the Air Jordan, was released in September 1985

    The shoes were famously "banned" from the court by the NBA in October 1985, as they didn't fit the required color scheme. The league fined Jordan $5,000 each time he wore the sneakers during a game, and Nike gladly covered the expenses.

    Nike created a TV commercial with this fact, giving the shoes an infamously cool vibe. The attention gained from the incident helped the shoe become a runaway success.

    The Air Jordan brand later became its own sub-brand of Nike. It developed a cult following, with sneaker fans lining up for every new limited release.

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    See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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    Scott Galloway is a marketing professor at the NYU Stern School of Business and the founder of business intelligence firm L2.

    Galloway appears on this week's episode of The Bottom Line with Henry Blodget and explains how Amazon could eliminate the existence of brands with voice technology. The following is a transcript of the video:

    So I think the biggest thing in technology in 2017 is voice. I think Amazon has effectively conspired with voice and technology and half a billion consumers to kill brands.

    When you go into a store, you see the packaging, you see the endcaps, you might see pricing go up and down. All of these things that big brands ranging from Unilever and Procter & Gamble to Kraft and Heinz have spent billions of dollars and generations building.

    When you begin ordering groceries and things and CPG products via voice on Alexa, all of those things go away. And if you look at search terms on Google and voice commands on Amazon’s Alexa, the percentage of time that brand prefixes are used in a request is declining. So effectively, I think Amazon has declared war — with the backing of 500 million consumers and a lot of cheap capital — on brands. And we will, using our algorithm, find you as good a product for a lesser price. Amazon will figure out in a nanosecond the best deal and most likely trade you into the highest-margin product for them which will be Amazon toothpaste.

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    James SwanwickMoney, time, vision, sacrifice: Investment takes many forms for entrepreneurs. Here's how 11 millionaire (and billionaire) members of The Oracles did it right.

    SEE ALSO: 10 things I learned about rich people while helping millionaires manage their money


    If you can afford to, invest in branding. Think of branding as getting married and selling as hooking up. It's why I’m winning; I’m branding while everyone is selling. Even the little things I sell — like shirts or a $13 book every three years — is branding. I don't care about the money; my economics just reinforce long-term branding and awareness. The quickest way I know somebody doesn't think they’re big time is by their short-term behavior.

    — Gary Vaynerchuk, founder and CEO of VaynerMedia (700+ employees with more than $100 million in annual revenue) and the NYT-bestselling author of "#AskGaryVee"

    Investing in tech

    Hotmail was a turning point for me. I came up with the idea for viral marketing so that Hotmail could be spread from customer to customer like a virus. All of a sudden, one of the companies I'd seeded was a household name. It made fundraising easier, and more entrepreneurs wanted my backing and advice. Hotmail affected an extraordinary number of people: Approximately 3 billion people communicate through the internet for free, largely due to Hotmail.

    — Tim Draper, founding partner of VC firm DFJ

    Seeding passionate entrepreneurs

    The fastest money I ever made was investing in a young technology startup before I sold my brokerage business. I didn't even understand what the guy actually did, but he was hard up for money, and I believed he would find a way to succeed. I bought 10 percent of his business for $100,000 and forgot about it until he bought it back from me for $1 million five years later. I used that million dollars to invest in my first 15 businesses on "Shark Tank."

    — Barbara Corcoran, founder of The Corcoran Group and Shark on "Shark Tank"

    See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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    shawn mendes

    For a rising pop star, the money side of the music business has drastically changed in the last few years, according to Andrew Gertler, who manages teen singer-songwriter sensation Shawn Mendes and runs AG Artists.

    “The music really is not as much the revenue generator as the marketing tool to then create other income streams,” Gertler told Business Insider, speaking by phone from Mendes’ worldwide arena tour.

    Those other income streams include not only things like live events and brand deals, but also opportunities at the crossroads of music and TV (or video in general), where Gertler said the line is getting more and more blurred.

    The growth stage

    Though Mendes has already cracked the top 10 on Billboard’s Hot 100 multiple times, Gertler looks at his career as a growth-stage business.

    “For the artists' fans and for artists, in terms of exposure, music should be everywhere and as easily accessible as humanly possible ... especially for an artist you are still building,” Gertler said. Mendes is on an upward trajectory, and hasn’t yet reached mega-stardom, Gertler explained. The idea is this: “Let’s get him in front of as many people as possible.”

    That style of thinking sounds strikingly similar to tech startups, where the initial focus is often on grabbing as many users as possible, before turning toward better monetization later on.

    And as far as making money from the actual music, Gertler has also seen a shift. He used to see about 75% of that revenue from sales on iTunes, with 25% coming from streaming services like Spotify. Now it’s more like 65-70% streaming, and 30% iTunes. “It’s been a complete flip in only a few years,” Gertler said.

    shawn mendes and manager

    Unlimited access

    Besides revenue, the other biggest change for up-and-coming music stars is the amount of access fans want to their private lives.

    “Fans and the general public are so used to unlimited access,” Gertler said. So is there any line? “There really isn’t one,” according to Gertler. Fans “probably know [pop stars] better than anyone should know someone.”

    This also means that it is extremely difficult for a pop star to have continued success without a sense of authenticity. It’s not like the past, where there were flashing lights and spectacle, and you didn’t really know what the artist was like in day-to-day life. Now you see what an artist is doing when they wake up, Gertler said.

    Artists that succeed in this model are those who can make a one-to-many relationship feel like a one-to-one relationship. “How do you make it feel like they really know you,” Gertler said.

    That necessity for a sense of authenticity can also make brand deals tricky. It used to be you could do an exclusive clothing deal, and no one saw you every single day, Gertler explained. Now people see stars at all times on social media, and you have to be a bit more careful. It’s more of a commitment.

    Hand-to-hand combat

    For a manager, this new world requires much more “hand-to-hand combat,” according to Gertler. He’s traveling all over the place with Mendes, and a lot of young managers doing the same, he said, citing Pat Corcoran who manages Chance the Rapper.

    You have to be at the center of the universe of that artist to understand what is going on at all times — and what the fans want. It is an ongoing dialogue with fans that happens in real-time. If you aren't at the center of it, you could get out of step.

    SEE ALSO: As YouTube stars pursue new dreams, keeping millions of loyal fans happy is a tough balancing act

    Join the conversation about this story »

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