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If It Looks Like A Duck And Quacks Like A Duck, It’s Bad Branding

Whether you call them Stories, Reels, or Fleets, all represent the same idea: short-form video. In the grand tradition of success and repetition that defines the internet landscape, every social platform has now come up with its own version to grab just a few more seconds of user attention.

Even LinkedIn.

Yes, the original home of networking and professional long-form content now has its own short-form video module. If this is your first inkling that it exists, now you know, and you can get back to taking pictures of your cat.

Like watching a politician shaking it on the dais to appeal to the ‘young folk,’ It’s hard to find the reasoning behind LinkedIn’s decision, but easy to cringe at it. Just as Twitter plunged into their own ill-fated “fleets,” LinkedIn isn’t just sinning against originality; they’re forgoing the substance of their brand for the fluff of memes and dance contests. …

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Are you ready to pitch your business solution to the climate crisis?

The Battle for Cleantech Funding

A recent spate of stories in green media suggest a second climate funding boom is in the offing for startups in the cleantech sector. It’s a nice change of pace after funding dried up for almost a decade after the first wave of cleantech investment in the aughts.

Although the curve for cleantech companies might not be as steep in the coming decade for reasons that run the spectrum from public opinion shifting on man-made climate change to maturing technologies, this cluster is still a harder sell for investors. …

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“The public is the only critic whose opinion means anything at all.”

— Mark Twain

Reality Bites…Hard

One of life’s ultimate paradoxes is the nearly impossible task of changing a person’s mind while at the same time public opinion is never static. When it comes to climate change, we exist somewhere in the middle, painfully awaiting large swaths of the general public to accept proven facts.

And while facts are, in the words of John Adams, “stubborn things,” they tend to be inert, which is why they are such weak persuasion tools.

Events, on the other hand, encourage people to see the world through a new lens. Such has been the case when it comes to communicating the dangers of the climate crisis during COVID, according to the recent study published by the Yale Program on Climate Change Communication, who reported “Most Americans are convinced that global warming is happening (72% nationally).”

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We all want to connect right now

Greetings fellow two-dimensional creatures:

With all of our interactions flattened into a rectangle, you may find yourself, like me, missing the human interaction that accompanies marketing and networking.

“Adapt or die,” said Oakland A’s General Manager, Billy Beane, in one of my favorite sports movies, “Moneyball.” And, whether you like it or not, you’ve had six months to build a bridge and get over your trepidation about online marketing to replace your three-dimensional routine.

Yes, it’s true: nothing can substitute for in-person meetings complete with inflection and micro-expressions when it comes to building business relationships. …

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No matter how well your engineering stands up, it will fail if it doesn’t stand out.

Does Every Size Company Need A Brand?

Recently, the CEO of a growth-stage cleantech company told me branding and marketing wasn’t something his company needed to do because their niche was so small that they already had relationships with most of the companies in their industry. “Decisions get made on price and engineering,” he said. “Nothing else matters.”

Politely, I demurred and asked him, “Did any of your competitors go to school with these engineers? Are any of these engineers somebody’s brother-in-law? Did they work on a previous project together at another company?”

Grudging silence.

I don’t mean to single out this particular CEO for looking at a situation the way most scientists and engineers look at solving a problem. These are analytical people, and without them, humanity wouldn’t have experienced the progress it has seen. But the reality is, businesses are made up of people, and people have biases when it comes to decisions about who to buy and sell from. …

I celebrated my 54th birthday the other day, but I’m not ready to be pigeonholed into dad-humor. If you’re wandering aimlessly as well, maybe this list will save you some time.

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Here’s what I’ve learned while dreaming my days away.

1. Why do retail clerks and restaurant servers smile when they apologize for being out of an item? Either they aren’t really sorry, or they never practiced making faces in front of a mirror when they were kids.

2. Revising history based on new discoveries that help us understand our past more thoroughly is a good thing. Rewriting it to fit with our current circumstances is Orwellian.

3. Dogs have life figured out, and they know we don’t. That’s why they look at us with sad eyes. …

Does your green brand meet its mission if it doesn’t appeal to all races?

Dear Michael’s Marc: I’ve always considered myself an ally for equality, regardless of a person’s color, religion, gender, etc. All human beings deserve respect, regardless of the color of their skin. But as I’ve been taking stock after the murder of yet another black man by a white police officer, I’m feeling like a guilty, over-educated, white liberal more than ever. You see, my company, the Ajax Brand, has an almost entirely white audience. We believe everyone, regardless of color, has a stake in the future of our planet. …

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Is the ‘cleaner air’ argument worth the agony of the pandemic?

“It takes two years to learn how to speak and sixty to learn how to keep quiet.” — Ernest Hemmingway

As the COVID-19 crisis has played out, I’ve been watching with increasing unease how some in the climate action community are uncomfortably close to cheerleading for the pandemic because of the unintended consequences of reduced global carbon emissions.

The repercussions of repeating this fallacy are only going to make the climb to actual carbon neutrality steeper.

Lessons From The Stock Market Crash For Climate Activists

Few Americans have heard of Jesse Livermore, but his tale carries essential lessons for the climate action community during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Livermore was a somewhat noted stock market speculator who made (and lost) his fortunes by selling the market short, that is, betting against stock prices rising. Just before October 1929, Livermore shorted the market and walked away with $100 million, which would be worth billions in today’s dollars. …

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Consumers don’t necessarily equate ‘clean’ with ‘green.’

In times of crisis, people show their true colors.

At the outset of my state’s coronavirus shutdown, I headed to my local Target to do what most Americans did — stock up on supplies. In the household cleaning aisles, I got a focus group worth of information about how we view green brands and why mass adoption continues to be slow.

The Word ‘Clean’ Doesn’t Necessarily Mean ‘Green.’

During this pandemic, ‘It kills 99.99% of germs and bacteria’ has become the new definition of clean.

Clorox and Lysol are having a record-breaking year. Why? Because no one cares that their disinfecting wipes are chlorine laden and end up in landfills. Do you really believe if consumers knew between 1%-2% of the world’s electricity goes to making chlorine that they would change their buying behavior? …

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…And What Happens When Everyone Shows Up To The Party Wearing The Same Outfit?

A month ago, I was scrambling to produce an ad for a client before Washington shut down due to the coronavirus. The client knew COVID-19 was going to cause a dramatic downturn in sales (especially on higher-end products) based on their experience during the 2008 banking meltdown. They asked me what I thought they should do.

The company was in a stable financial position and could afford to play the long game with their brand. So I wrote what I thought was an ingenious script highlighting their long time commitment to their community and their approach to “help” their neighbors through this crisis with a zero down/zero interest offer on everything they sold. …


Michael Grossman

Brand braggadocio and message minstrel for groundbreakers. Recovering politico. Bibliophile and Borscht-belt Jew.

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