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Hidden Meanings in Famous Logos

We see logos everyday. Stores, schools, companies, restaurants, brands, and athletic teams all have logos, some of which have been carefully designed to fully represent the company. Some of these designs are so subtle, you may not notice them upon the first look or even on your hundredth look. If such an important detail is so easily overlooked it might be easy to ask, “What’s the point?” But in our opinion, if the detail is so subtle that it is often missed, then we say, “Bravo!” Let’s take a closer look at some well-known logos to see if there is actually something else there we normally do not see.


This one may be a little easier to crack, but we’re just getting started. You may have noticed that the yellow arrow is also in the shape of a smile, but pay attention to the letters. The arrow starts with the letter “a” and points to “z,” suggesting that Amazon has everything from A to Z.


The famous ice cream shop has been around for years, and this logo may just appear to be a clever blend of its two signature colors, but look at the “BR” portion of the logo, the pinkish purple colors highlight the number 31 within the “B” and R,” which represents the 31 different flavors of ice cream that Baskin Robbins is known for.


The popular shipping company has a fairly simple logo, but one that is recognized by all. Take a closer look at the negative white space between the “E” and the “X.” Can you see the white arrow? This was no accident. The arrow represents the speed and efficiency of the company. Simple, yet effective.


The delicious Swiss chocolate proudly displays a graphic design of the famous Matterhorn in the Swiss Alps, but look at the blank space in the center of the mountain…a standing bear can be seen.


This logo is beautifully simplistic, but perfectly represents the city and the zoo. If you look at the white space between the legs of the giraffes you can see the city landscape. Ingenious.


One of the most simplistic logos that exists. It makes sense that a company named Apple would have an apple as its logo, but it doesn’t necessarily make sense that a computer company chose a fruit for its name and logo until you know the meaning behind it. The apple represents the forbidden fruit from the Tree of Knowledge as told in the Biblical story of Adam & Eve. Suddenly, it all makes sense.


It’s not too hard to see the “V” that sits on top of the “W” in the logo, but what might be less known to Americans is that in German, “volks” means people while “wagen” means car. Volkswagen is the car for the people.



LG’s logo seems simple enough. The “L” is encompassed by a larger “G,” but did you realize that one of gaming’s most iconic characters is hidden in the logo? It’s Pac-Man himself!


The logo for the NFL team, the Atlanta Falcons, presents the bird of prey as a formidable opponent, but also faintly resembles the letter “F.”


The MLB team simply has the outline of a baseball glove catching a baseball, but look closely and you’ll see that the letters “M” and “B” make up the outline of the glove, standing for Milwaukee Brewers, of course.








The Importance of a Voice Behind a Brand

One of the most emotionally rewarding movie scenes I’ve seen happens at the end of 1952’s Singin’ In the Rain. Lina Lamont, a bratty, entitled beauty stands on the stage, lip syncing into a microphone for a large crowd of people. Behind the curtain, however, is the film’s heroine, Kathy Selden, a sweet gal with the voice of an angel. In this scene – and for the fictional film at the center of Singin’ in the Rain – Kathy is lending her voice to Lina’s performance, since Lina’s own voice is, well, less than appealing.

In the film, Lina Lamont’s beauty catapulted her to Silent Film star royalty, but everything changed once sound was introduced. Lina’s voice didn’t jive with her refined exterior, but the studio heads still wanted to use her Star Power to attract audiences.

So, in a way, this switcharoo with Kathy was an effort to maintain Lina’s brand. “Customers” loved her, and would turn away if her voice didn’t reflect her brand’s image.

Naturally, this is exactly what happens. The curtain is lifted in the middle of Lina’s lip-syncing charade and the truth is revealed. As Gene Kelly’s character quickly points out, Kathy’s is the voice “[the audience] loved and heard tonight! She’s the real star of the picture!”

If this scene from Singin’ In the Rain proves anything, it’s that there’s real power in a voice and how it communicates with the audience. This is true for the characters in the film, and it’s even more true for your brand.

Audience members gravitate towards voices we relate to, voices that appeal to us. As we’re bombarded by brands and advertisements, a unique and relatable voice can act as a lighthouse amid the fog of competition. This is true in print, on TV, even Social Media.

Only when your brand finds a voice that speaks to your customers, a voice that’s “the real star of the picture,” will you be able to strike up a meaningful discussion with your audience.

What We Mean by Voice:

A brand’s voice is obviously different than an individual’s voice, but they’re both modes of communication. Think about a party: how do individuals interact? Are they wallflowering it up in a corner or deep in conversation? Are they asking questions, telling stories, listening and trying their best to be relatable?

It’s not hard to decide which option you’d rather spend the evening with and it shouldn’t be hard to decide which direction you’d like your brand to take.

When your brand lacks a unique voice it lacks an identity. Author and activist Justine Musk wrote a great piece about the importance of a personal, individual Voice but many of her points apply perfectly to a brand’s voice as well.

Here’s Musk: “When you are a presence that lacks a voice, you create an empty space that another voice – a dominating voice that knows no boundaries – is only too happy to fill.” Often times this void is filled by your customers and their assumptions. Your voice drives them to make decisions and unless you assert your identity their decision will be that you’re unnoticeable and unworthy of their patronage. “Silence is not a neutral position, whatever your intentions.”

“Online, your voice is who you are. Readers take that voice and construct their sense of your identity around it. If you show your inner life and it connects with their inner lives, it creates emotional resonance (what we’re all hungry for), and they will follow you wherever you lead them.”

In the business world, this priceless connection is absolute success.

Make It Meaningful:

Len Stein from Visibility Magazine has some really great insight about why a meaningful voice is so critical. He says:

“With the meaning of a brand wide open to public interpretation and prone to hyperbole and misconceptions, corporate managers must thread a thicket of sticky challenges to successfully communicate brand mission, values, and philosophy.

“Moreover, as a brands become the publishers of their own unfolding stories, they need intelligent editors who can provide stakeholders with a stream of high-value content that is packed with utility, seeded with inspiration, and that is honestly empathetic. Anything less will not suffice in a world where consumers can simply click away or spin around the ount a web-wide counter-attack on brands that refuse to walk their talk.”

So what does this mean?

It goes back to content, which shouldn’t be a surprise – so much of your brand’s success comes down to creating content that people are actually interested in and want to share. But it digs deeper than that, relating to the voice that conveys your content. At the end of the day or the end of an article, content is but a means to an end; it should be a way to open a channel of communication and strengthen the relationship you have with your audience.

It needs to tell your story. What makes your brand different than your competitors and, more importantly, what voice are you using to communicate this? Humor? Genuine, helpful emotion?

No matter what story your brand settles on, the voice needs to be relatable. In the end, this interaction is just humans talking to humans. Brands should be approachable contemporaries for their audience, not pompous kings hiding away in a corporate castle.

Here’s Stein again: “The more people can relate to the brand as a distinctive, trust-worthy personality (read: individual), the more approachable it will become and the deeper the customer relationship (loyalty and engagement) will develop.”

Language and Medium:

To be successful, your brand needs to master both Language and Medium. After deciding who your audience is and what to say to them, the next step is determining the “How.” This is where your brand’s voice becomes most important.

For language, this is as simple as the vocabulary you use, whether it be big words, short phrases, or lots of jokes. Your audience will learn to appreciate a pattern, as long as you give them something consistent to latch on to.

Before diving in, make sure you do your research; find your target audience and study how they communicate amongst each other. If they talk about the good or service your brand provides, see what light your competitors are painted in. Whatever your findings are, that voice is how you want to posture yourself. It’s the best way to slide right in.

And if you can’t find anyone discussing your good or service online, consider a different medium. Don’t settle for squeezing your voice into a medium that isn’t suitable. Find greener pastures, as it were. For example, Andy Warhol didn’t do much sculpting because he used mass production to comment on an increasingly capitalist world. It’s hard to replicate thousands of sculptures.

Let’s take this same principle back to Singin’ In the Rain – essentially, Lina Lamont couldn’t learn the language audiences wanted to hear. They wanted to hear a sweet melody when her voice was more of the nails-on-a-chalkboard variety. The sound medium didn’t suit her either; while she flourished as a silent star, her life would have been much easier if she stayed there.

Team Kathy

Don’t be a Lina Lamont. Make sure that you find not only the right voice for your brand, but the best way and place to communicate with your audience. More and more brands are turning to social media, but maybe you find your audience gravitates more towards TV Ads or Printed One-Sheets. Regardless, do your research and use a unique voice to make your content relatable.

Then we’ll all be Singin’ In the Rain.


Best Brands of San Diego Comic-Con 2014

San Diego Comic Con Logo

Every year, the San Diego Comic-Con (SDCC) takes over both downtown San Diego and the minds of pop-culture fans around the world by bringing together stars, press, and countless cosplayers and fans. Most are here for fun, camaraderie, scoops on upcoming films, or to score some exclusive swag from the exhibit floor (in fact, The Wrap already compiled a list of the most expensive SDCC 2014 exclusives on eBay).

But the fans have to be fanatic about something, otherwise they wouldn’t make the pilgrimage by the tens of thousands. In short, fans need to love a brand. These brands and properties flock to San Diego in swarms that rival the actual visitors, hoping to build enthusiasm about the next stage of their brand’s evolution.

Yes, I know many come for the “experience,” but this just means they’re interested in the SDCC Brand; which, I might add, is always one of the biggest brands in attendance. It was reported after 2013’s Con that SDCC brings in over $163 Million / year for the city of San Diego.

Comic-Con 2014 just wrapped things up and it was another whopping success. San Diego is sure getting good at this thing.

To celebrate, we’ve collected a list of 10 brands that really stood out this year. Brands are all competing for attendees’ time and eyeballs, and these brands certainly made the most of their trip…there’s a lot of fish in this sea of people (many of them masked), and odds are those on this list were able to snag at least a few new customers.


Assassin’s Creed

Assassin’s Creed Unity comes out on October 28th, and Ubisoft worked hard to make sure that as many of SDCC’s 130,000+ visitors realized their presence. For the second year in a row, the wildly popular game teamed with Schick Razors to give convention-goers something no one else thought of offering: A close shave.

Last year – to team up with their pirate-centric Black Flag – these ritual shavings took place on an actual pirate ship that was docked in the nearby harbor. The Assassin’s Creed Unity game takes place during the French Revolution, so while Schick’s Hydro blade will be shaving your face, you’ll be surrounded by branded guillotines. Morbid, but accurate.

Comic Con Schick Hydro Shave

Wolverine stopped by for a shave. Notice the branded guillotines.

Both men and women waited up to an hour in line for their chance at the chopping block, but they had some other branded content to help the time pass faster.

The Freerunning course.

Perhaps more than any other brand, the Assassin’s Creed franchise has succeeded in integrating the recent “freerunning” or “parkour” craze into their gameplay. And now, thanks to Comic-Con, into the actual lives of fans.

Ubisoft teamed with yet another brand, the Tempest Freerunning Academy, to install a parkour course (parkourse?) just outside the convention center. As Chief Parkour Officer Michael Zernow explains in the announcement video, it’s “the biggest event in Assassin’s Creed history.”

It certainly seems that way. Guests run through a complicated obstacle course that culminates in “the leap of faith,” a 25 foot free fall onto a safety mat below. According to Zernow, “the course is designed to challenge people but to also motivate them. It gives you a real feeling of accomplishment to be able to finish a course like this.”

Marc Graser, Senior Editor for Variety, praised Ubisoft’s strategy: “The highly visible promotion is sure to stand out for Ubisoft not only for the sheer size of the course — and vicinity to the central hub of activity for Comic-Con — but also its clever but simplistic way in entertaining fans of the franchise while educating newcomers about the series.”

More than anything, the course is the perfect way to add a level of relatability to the upcoming game…at least as much as a game featuring superhuman feats allows. “A lot of times people who play this game would like to see how far they could get in the game in real life and this course can give them a taste of it,” said Zernow.


Mad Max: Fury Road

Mad Max: Fury Road

San Diego Comic-Con has always been a great place for major film studios to make big announcements about future releases. This year, Warner Brothers teased some footage from the highly anticipated (depending on who you ask) Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice, and the crowd was predictably enthused.

What no one saw coming, however, was the gangbusters reaction to Warner’s Mad Max: Fury Road trailer. After a discussion with director George Miller – who was dragged back to the series after 30 years by a story that “just wouldn’t go away” – the trailer hit the screen. And, by all accounts, hit the entire crowd right in whatever part of the brain controls excitement.

It’s usually difficult to determine a “winner” of Comic-Con, but Mad Max is the promising underdog of the fight. Excitement for the 2015 film was tickled in early July by photos published by Entertainment Weekly, but Fury Road remained a skeptical wild card at best.

George Miller interviewed by Chris Hardwick

The reception of the Comic-Con trailer, and its subsequent release on the internet, shows that a respected but outdated brand can come back in a big way – as long as the actual product is good enough.

Mad Max Poster

Past films have been met by wild enthusiasm at the Convention only to flounder in the Box Office (Scott Pilgrim, anyone?), but Mad Max feels like a winner. Its charm, as grim and dangerous as it appears, is built on successful formulas rather than quirk and directorial reputation. The “visually focused film” is essentially one long chase film whose gas-tank is low on dialog but apparently overflowing with adrenaline.

Mad Max SDCC

Do yourself a favor and watch the trailer HERE – it’s certainly worth your time. Some enthusiastic fans have even dug into the trailer on an “obsessive” level for clues about the film’s secrets.

If you hadn’t heard about the Mad Max brand before 2014’s SDCC, odds are you’ll be red-lining your engine by the time it hits on May 15, 2015.


The Hunger Games: Mockingjay

Waiting in Line Mockingjay

One of SDCC’s big surprises was the absence of a Hunger Games panel. Mockingjay, the third film in the successful series, hits theaters on November 21st, exactly one year after Catching Fire’s theatrical debut. Lionsgate brought Catching Fire to 2013’s Comic-Con in a big way, but decided to take a different route this year, likely because the film is already a guaranteed success.

Capital Couture meet the Samsung Galaxy

To satiate fans and begin the buzz-building trail to November 21st, Lionsgate teamed with Samsung to provide a more immersive experience of the Hunger Games world. Fans first entered the Capitol Gallery, a swanky art gallery populated with artwork from the film, actors posed in their Capitol Couture finest, and menacing Peacekeeper troops. There was also “Peeta’s Bakery” a small exhibit that gave out real cupcakes and pastries.

As opposed to Mad Max, Mockingjay wasn’t worried about getting their first trailer out to as many people as possible. In a symbolic gesture that echoes the actions of the fictional Capitol, Lionsgate gave fans at the Con a chance to be the fan-elite and watch the trailer before anyone else.

The Blue Room SDCC

Attendees poured into an eerie blue room where they would watch the trailer on a Samsung device while sitting in a futuristic chair. This event immediately turned guests into brand ambassadors who would leave and immediately spew their reactions into the social media sphere.

Almost as a reward for viewing, guests would continue through the artificial Capitol where they could pose with hologram versions of the film’s stars and design t-shirts for themselves.

Mockingjay holograms brought to you by Samsung

It’s interesting to consider that, like Mad Max, Lionsgate soon made this Comic-Con “exclusive” available to the public. You can watch the new trailer HERE.




After making a big impression at 2013’s Convention, television program Starz returned to tease their upcoming series Outlander. Their booth was located in the Exhibition Hall, which meant it was a little smaller than something like the Assassin’s Creed experience.

Smaller, but not necessarily less influential.

As Professional Fangirls points out, the Outlander experience was among the best of the convention, despite its simplicity.

Outlander follows a 1940s Combat Nurse as she is swept back in time to 1750s Scotland. Starz’ interactive booth similarly began in the 1940s with actors donning period attire, before allowing guests to tour a large Scottish castle. Clearly, Starz was determined to announce Outlander in a big way and wouldn’t be limited by their indoor space. It’s hard to ignore an unfamiliar brand when they’ve constructed a castle in front of you.

Outlander posing with men from every era

As guests walked through the castle, they could pose with strapping, kilted men or see actual props from the series. If they weren’t too distracted by tangible items, they could watch exclusive footage on TVs spread throughout the exhibit.

It’s too bad free kilts weren’t given away as swag.

Outlander is based on a series of novels, so it’s easy to assume that a booth like this would be catered towards established fans. However, the massive structure and informative layout seems to have been successful at attracting newcomers as well.

This booth was paired with a successful panel and multiple appearances by the series’ author, the executive producers behind the show, and cast members.


Walking Dead

Terminus...safety at last?

Not all TV shows need to make such an entry. Some, like The Walking Dead, were already the No. 1 show of the 2012 – 2013 season among adults from 18-49…which, coincidentally, is also the demographic most likely to attend San Diego Comic-Con.

Terminus Walking Dead

Still, AMC’s Walking Dead team didn’t shuffle contentedly around the exhibit hall like, well, a bunch of zombies. They maintained their legacy of bringing fun and tantalizing booths to the convention floor, giving fans the perfect chance for a photo op (this was another booth included on Professional Fan Girls’ Comic-Con Roundup). Free swag is always great, but there’s nothing like snapping pictures next to real Walking Dead zombies, of both the animatronic and actor-in-makeup variety, to take home to the family.

Zombies in Cages

Season 4 left off in the mysterious “safe haven” of Terminus, and the exhibit allowed you to pose near the very tracks that lead to this area. The popularity of the show meant there was a constant line to pose near a half-buried walker, an eerie map, or some walkers in cages.

This exhibit was paired with another successful Walking Dead panel which teased footage and built buzz for the October premiere of Season 5.



Lego Exclusives

After a few years of poor performance (they “had lost money four out of seven years from 1998 through 2004,” according to Strategy&), The Lego Group is currently riding high on a huge wave of popularity and goodwill. After successfully reviving its brand, releasing a critically acclaimed and financially successful Lego Movie and countless Lego Video Games,the Group landed in San Diego in a big way.

Guardians of the Galaxy Legos

TMNT Shredder

Several major film properties, such as Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and Guardians of the Galaxy, were teased at the Con and Lego was able to incorporate this co-branded enthusiasm into their own products. They had life-sized Lego versions of TMNT’s villain Shredder and a truly remarkable recreation of Guardians’ Rocket Racoon riding atop the tree-man Groot.

These larger than life models were visible from across the Convention Hall, but some of the most popular Lego merchandise was a little harder to spot. Lego released rare minifigures like the Batman of Zur-en-Arrh (???) and showed off the Mixels, a new line of adorable kits.

Mixel Legos

Legos? Wtf?

The multi-platformed Lego Group also released the trailer for their buzzed about video game Lego Batman 3: Beyond Gotham, the latest iteration of an already-beloved series. The game allows a new level of versatility by letting players become past Batman characters like the 1960s version of Batman and Robin. Adam West, the original Batman actor, is even a playable character.

And if you’re interested, here’s a video of Lego Master Builders creating the wonderful Groot and Rocket Racoon statue.


Guardians of the Galaxy

Rocket's Ship

The presence of Guardians of the Galaxy wasn’t contained to Lego’s giant model, not by a long shot. With the US release date landing so close to the actual Convention, Guardians characters (particularly Rocket Racoon, who was once considered the wildcard of the film) were visible around every corner, in countless different mediums. Exclusive posters? Check. Giant Funko figures? Check. Props from the upcoming film were even visible at an exhibit booth.

Props from Guardians of the Galaxy

In fact, during their Comic-Con panel, Marvel revealed that “Guardians of the Galaxy content is coming to Xbox LIVE, Minecraft, Marvel Heroes, and other games.” Early reviews of the film are championing it as the new Star Wars, and Disney / Marvel is doing their best to reach this level of popularity; in addition to the gaming side of things, a Guardians of the Galaxy animation series previewed a “literally explosive 1-minute” clip.

Guardians of the Galaxy Video Game

But perhaps the biggest announcement was that the sequel is already on its way. Director James Gunn and star Chris Pratt informed the Hall H audience that the Guardians will be returning on July 28th, 2017. Mark your calendars accordingly.

Guardians of the Galaxy

The Guardians are among Marvel’s more obscure properties, but it’s safe to say that their bubble is about to burst.

It was recently announced that Fandango has Guardians tracking to be the highest grossing August release of all time. It’s impossible to tell how much of this came from Comic-Con buzz, but the brand is certainly going for widespread saturation. And it looks like it’s going to pay off in a big way. I mean, you’ve probably already seen the film by the time you’re reading this article.


The Oculus Rift

New brands aren’t the only ones making the trek to San Diego.

Sometimes new technologies take the plunge as well.

You guys have heard of Virtual Reality, right? Then you shouldn’t be surprised that a VR company is using one of the world’s largest gatherings of gaming and pop culture fans to tease their product.

Jaeger Pilot

The company is Oculus Rift, and they actually teamed up with multiple brands to give a lucky few Comic-Con attendees (300 / day, 150 at each booth) a chance to try it out. The brands Oculus teamed up with couldn’t have been better, either – they had a presence at both a Pacific Rim, Jaeger driving experience and an X-Men Cerebro experience.

Reports for each were extremely positive.

Once users are wearing the Oculus headset, a pre-recorded video plays. Billed as “experiences” rather than “games,” both the Jaeger ride and the Cerebro test offered little interactivity, but really put fans in the world of these brands.

And I can’t wait for the Oculus Rift to expand further.



History Channel's Vikings

The History Channel’s popular and surprisingly good medieval series Vikings went the Assassin’s Creed route and set up a large fan experience outside of the actual Convention Center. But instead of an obstacle course, Vikings gave fans an entire on-set experience.

Warrior Women Vikings

Business Insider listed their exhibit as one of the “15 Coolest Things at the San Diego Comic-Con” and Social Media was buzzing with pictures of fans getting the most out of their visit. According to BleedingCool, Vikings On the Set “experience is very detailed and immersive for participants. They get to be treated to a full Vikings makeover individually and then have a custom video made of themselves to share on social media.”

Now that’s quite the souvenir. Even better, it’s quite the brand exposure. You see your friends wielding swords, shields, and some awesome dreadlocks and you’re bound to be intrigued.

Vikings Blood Legacy

But The History Channel wasn’t content with just an “experience.” What good is a visit to SDCC if you don’t come home with some nice swag?

At their exhibit, they were also giving out a free Vikings Comic Book emblazoned with a large History “H.” It’s a fun medium to give fans some backstory about their favorite characters, and something awesome to show off when they get home.

Vikings Drinking Horn

Drinking Horn sold for $80.00 (drinks not included)

The real Vikings prize, at least in my opinion, was a different piece of swag: a Vikings drinking horn. It’s a cool, and surprisingly realistic replica of the props used in the show, but it actually served a purpose. In a very clever bit of cross-branding, Vikings teamed up with several local San Diego bars to give half-off beers (and sometimes free chips) to any visitors proudly wearing their drinking horn.

Vikings drink at a discount


Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles

TMNT Pizza Thrower

Sometimes brands have to be creative to find an appropriate co-brand, and sometimes it’s the most natural thing in the world. Like peanut butter and jelly.

Or like the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and Pizza Hut.

The Turtles have already become the official mascot for Pizza Hut’s new Cheesy Bite Pizza (you can even have your pizza sliced Katana Style, in 4 large, Turtle sized slices), but this made-in-heaven relationship offered both brands to show off a new toy at this year’s SDCC.

Paramount is making a big push for August’s live action TMNT film, and what better way to do that than with a life sized Pizza Thrower, ripped right from the Character’s past?

TMNT Comic Con 2014

After receiving free slices of pizza, served on special plates illustrated by artist Scott Derby, and taking a seat in Pizza-Hut Pizza Box furniture, guests could climb aboard this modified Toyota Tacoma and shoot cardboard pizzas at a series of villainous Shredder targets.

TMNT Furniture

Here’s an LA Times video on the Pizza-Throwing vehicle.

This vehicle isn’t a joke, either. It was 12 feet tall, 9 feet wide, and capable of driving 75 miles / hour. The only question left is what’s happened to it now that the Convention is over? I’ve got a free space on my block.


With hundreds of brands showing up and showing off at this years San Diego Comic-Con, you’re almost guaranteed to have found a brand that really stood out to you. Let us know what we missed by commenting below!


The Three Rules for Building Your Brand on Facebook

As the most popular social media platform for both businesses and the public (all of which are potential customers), Facebook should be the first place you take your business and brand when hitting the social sphere.

When done correctly (and the following article should give you a hand in this department), a branded Facebook page gives you an unparalleled reach, influence, and engagement with your audience. It’s the best place to get interaction with your customers in both fun and serious ways, and can really boost your brand in the eyes of potential clients.

But before the results, comes the planning and considerations. Remember when we said Facebook was popular for businesses as well? The competition is certainly stiff, but not insurmountable. By keeping your Facebook page consistent, approachable, and relevant, you’ll become a trustworthy source of information and feedback. More likes will always come, and every Thumbs Up you get will be one more person open to your brand.

Facebook Thumbs Ups your brand

Stay Consistent

The importance of consistency shouldn’t be a secret for your brand. Ideally, you’ve already shaped your personality into something recognizable that is easily transferred to a Facebook page. But the fun doesn’t stop there:

Visual Consistency is key for all your social media platforms, including Facebook. If you’ve adopted a color scheme and logo for your website or other platforms, it’s crucial that that pattern continue on your Facebook. If you have a particular avatar (profile picture) for Twitter or G+, make sure that ends up on your Facebook as well.

And what about the information conveyed on your Facebook? Is it similar (or even identical) to what’s advertised elsewhere? Customers shouldn’t have to piece together brand information from your website and all your social media platforms. It’s not a scavenger hunt. Each of these options should act as a one-stop shop for all of your brand’s immediate information. Your official website will obviously be more detailed than your Facebook page, but make sure your social profile hits all of the important points.

The best place to convey the majority of this info is Facebook’s “About Me” section. Fill it out completely and in a tone that matches your brand’s established voice. Hopefully this isn’t something you’d easily forget, but make sure you link to your actual website from your Facebook page, and include a link to your Facebook from your website. A click of a button is far easier than having to do any digging to navigate amongst your online digs.

Once your visual motifs are cemented in the websphere and information is easy to find, it’s time to turn your focus to the actual content posted on your Facebook page. Your page needs to seem alive, which means having a consistent posting schedule. Don’t flood your Facebook with ten posts in a day and then go off the grid for a week. There are several web extensions that make this easy, but it’s always a good idea to log into your actual Facebook so you can monitor feedback and field questions.

Stay Approachable

In fact, monitoring feedback and fielding questions is one of the best things Facebook can do for your brand. It’s a public forum, a “social” form of media, which means it’s a two-way street. Facebook gives you unprecedented access to current and potential clientele, but it also allows them to get in contact with you, a formerly unapproachable company they support. Now they’re expecting someone, anyone to be there to answer questions and address complaints, as well as providing brand-related content.

But your brand should be approachable at all times, not just when people have questions. In fact, Facebook can encourage customer participation in unparalleled ways through contests, content, and simple questions.

For example, Skype often asks it’s more than 30 million fans for ideas on what they’d like to see in future updates. With 30 million fans, there’s going to be a few duds, but you’d be surprised at how genuine and appreciative most of the contributors are. Other brands like Red Bull and Wal-Mart use a strong call to action to ask followers to “like” or “share” their posts to show support or learn about new brand developments. Judging by the amount of likes their pages have (43 million / 34 million respectively), it works.

Stay Relevant

Doing your part to stay approachable is great, but it works best when there’s an audience on the receiving end. Herein lies social media’s greatest paradox: it’s easy to build an audience when you have an audience, but never easy when starting out. Yet one thing’s for sure — the first step is and should always be relevancy. What’s your brand’s target audience and what do they care about? How can your content be relevant to their interests?

A big part of this is keeping the blatant advertisements to a minimum. The common approach is to follow a 70 / 20 / 10 posting pattern. This means that 70% of your posts should be relevant information about your brand, in an appropriate voice. Are you a mattress company? Post about anything from sleeping tips to the history of mattresses, just make sure it’s relevant and actually builds your brand by being useful. 20% of your posts should be content shared from other profiles, and 10% can be blatantly self-promotional.

10% isn’t a typo. It’s a low number, but it keeps your Facebook looking like an asset, not an opt-in commercial. No one wants you to show up and demand that they value your service — treat this engagement like a first date, or rather a series of dates. Be charming, be informative, and you may just end up on a second date. If you look at Monster Energy’s Facebook you don’t see a flood of energy drink photos. Instead you see a series of thrilling, engaging photos featuring the activities Monster has spent time associating itself with.

If your overall brand personality doesn’t jive with your target audience, you’ve either chosen the wrong audience or it’s time to try on a new tone. One thing’s for sure, humor and absurdity always seem to sell (just think Old Spice or Skittles). If levity suits your brand, don’t be afraid to give it a shot! This can be a great way to stir excitement, engagement, and participation.

The Wrap Up

Hopefully this sparks your own creativity as you look to optimize your brand’s Facebook presence. It’s not a list of “dos” and “do-nots,” because social media is often far too volatile for any one approach.

It takes an understanding of your audience and a willingness to experiment. Just remember, regardless of your ultimate voice and approach, to stay consistent, approachable, and relevant.



Extravagant Parties That May Be Over the Top

Event planning is always a really big job. It takes months of planning, organizing, and patience to get the work load finished in time. The day of the event itself may be the most stressful time in an event planners life, and that’s just for your average Joe’s event. What happens when it becomes a massively extravagant event? Welcome to the craziest parties you may have ever heard of.

The show The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills demonstrates just how willing some of these families are to spend money on parties for their own pleasure. One example comes from Adrienne, she threw a spa party in her own home that cost somewhere in the ballpark of $100,000. This event included the use of a laser machine, spray tanning booths, hydro-facials, 2 manicurists, 3 masseurs, 3 waiters, and a personal chef. Each guest was also given a personal red velvet cake that had edible gold dust sprinkled on top, because sprinkles just wouldn’t be enough.

In another episode, Taylor Armstrong threw a party for her 4-year-old daughter, Kennedy. She forked out $60,000 total to include a lavish set up of decorations, mocktails and cocktails, a live band to perform a song for the 4-year-old, and diamond barbie necklaces as party favors to all the children.

The craziness doesn’t stop there though, another reality TV show called My Super Sweet 16 highlights teens’ excessive 16th birthdays and what all it takes to make their “dreams” come true. One such party was a Moulin Rouge themed party that cost nearly $180,000. It took 4 weeks of intense preparation to organize the shin-dig. The cake alone cost $1,500, her friends were each picked up by limousines, and she was announced and walked out to can-can dancers. Her birthday gift that evening was a BMW X3.

Another episode featured Aaron Reid’s birthday in which he rented out the 40/40 club that is owned by Jay-Z. His invitations were portable music players with a recorded invite as one of the tracks. That night, P-Diddy and Kanye West attended for the entire night; the cost to have Kanye for an entire night alone is $3 million.

To highlight a few other episodes: Natalie had diamonds set into her manicured nails for her party which cost $800, and Sierra had people dress in white and drive in limos to the homes of her friends to hand deliver her invitations. With each invitation came a miniature Louis Vuitton cake and a letter informing them of all the gifts she would like to acquire.

While these $60,000 – $100,00 parties are impressive, celebrity weddings can top them all! Brad Pitt and Jennifer Aniston spent $1 million on their wedding that included 50,000 flowers and a special fireworks show at the end of the night.

When Khloe Kardashian married Lamar Odom they too spent $1 million; it was held in Beverly Hills and Khloe wore a custom Vera Wang dress.

Christina Aguilera and Jordan Bratman spent $2 million on their wedding; they rented out a private vineyard and the ceremony included a 14-piece orchestra. Christina wore a designer gown, and the couple partied with their friends until 5 a.m.

Chelsea Clinton married Marc Mezvinsky and they spent $4.8 million total. $750,000 went to catering, $11,000 for the cake, $250,000 on jewelry, $600,000 for their air-conditioned tents, and $500,000 in flowers.

Catherine Zeta Jones and Michael Douglas spent $1.5 on their nuptials. Their invitations were written in invisible ink, the reception was in the New York plaza hotel, and they used 50 rent-a-cops for security.

So while the event you’re planning may seem like a nightmare, just think of how nightmarish it must have been to plan one of these doozies of a party.









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Deion Branders: What Your Brand Can Learn From “Prime Time.”

I’m willing to bet you’re familiar with Deion Sanders, but where you know him from is a complete shot in the dark. After becoming a star of Florida State University’s football, baseball, even track team, Sanders began his equally impressive career in the NFL, MLB, and PBL.

Deion Sanders fully branded

PBL, of course, stands for “Personal Branding League” and I just made it up. Despite Sanders’ resounding success in professional sports, his greatest legacy may be how he elevated himself from “talented collegiate athlete” to a “multi-faceted entertainment personality with the on-the-field talent to back up any and all bravura.”

Deion Sanders is already in the NFL and College Football Hall of Fames, but he’d have an entire wing devoted to his exploits if a hall of fame existed for Personal Branding. While still enrolled at FSU, Sanders began thinking seriously about his future. He saw money, he saw success, and he began creating a vehicle that would allow him to reach the wealth and fame he felt he was destined for.

The vehicle? He turned himself into “Prime Time” or “Neon Deion,” and became what may be the most recognizable sports personality of all time.

Deion Sanders as "Prime Time"

Here’s some obvious context about brands: They inspire loyalty and provide designations amongst similar products. When dozens of brands are selling toothpaste, for instance, consumers need to have a way to decide between their options. Enter Brands, stage left, with their accompanying loyalty and trust in tow.

19 year old Deion Sanders looked around and saw a plethora of similarly priced, indistinguishable tubes of toothpaste all waiting for the Major Leagues to pluck them off the shelf. This didn’t work for the man destined to become Prime Time.

According to longstanding FSU Head Coach Bobby Bowden, Deion Sanders knew that “You could make a lot of money if you sell yourself.”

So he did. Deion Sanders effectively became Prime Time and donned gold chains, giant rings, and cruised around Florida State in his brand new convertible. In the inaugural episode of FOX Sports Net’s Beyond the Glory, Sanders’ mother smiles affectionately as she says that he “created a monster.” An extremely hungry one at that.

Your brand should be equally hungry and equally driven. You should have all the bravura and skills necessary to make a name for yourself and create a loyal, excited fan-base.

Thankfully, Neon Deion’s remarkable trajectory contains some valuable lessons:

1. Look to Your Idols

Deion Sanders curated his public persona carefully. Any brashness or perceived sloppiness was deliberate and helped build his Prime Time character. And this “monster” was solidified in no time, complete with high-stepping touchdowns and an ecstatic fan-base.

The Prime Time character worked so well because Deion Sanders was passionate about it. It was a persona he actually enjoyed, one that was honest to who he was. But if the only input was Sanders’ own personality it hardly counts as a character — instead, he pulled from four of his sports idols.

Deion Sanders' Prime Time personality

Prime Time learned his brashness from Muhammad Ali, but also his confidence. Muhammad Ali was cocky, but he had the skills and success to back it up. Hank Aaron provided the perseverance to endure any trials that Sanders would face. Sanders has found near universal success, but his autobiography Power, Money & Sex: How Success Almost Ruined My Life outlines some of the troubled waters he overcame.

O.J. Simpson’s legacy has been all but destroyed, but he was once respected for his prowess on the football field. Deion Sanders claims that he learned team loyalty and care from Simpson because he “always took care of his linemen and they took care of him.” I don’t think it’s a stretch to apply this mentality to Sanders’ later philanthropic ventures, including founding a Preparatory Academy to help High School students make it to college.

Prime Time’s fourth influence was Julius Irving’s “constant professionalism” and flair. Irving’s professional impact may seem counter-intuitive since Prime Time spent his early days driving his custom “PRIME TIME” license plates around town talking on a giant cell phone, but as cartoonish as that sounds, Sanders approached it all as a job, just like Julius Irving.

It’s worth noting that Neon Deion’s idols literally came from different fields. All four men are athletes, sure, but that’s just like your brand turning to other brands, even if they’re in different markets. If you love a particular campaign from Coca-Cola, give it a shot. An approach from DiGiorno pizza catches your eye? Done. Menchie’s frozen yogurt? Don’t be shy, make it yours.

As long as your influences are a natural fit to the brand you create, they can come from anywhere. It all comes down to the attitude you project and as long as it’s a cohesive brand you’re in the clear.

2. Be Recognizable

Prime Time became a success because he stood out and made a name for himself. Whether it be a bold marketing campaign, an exciting new product, or a fresh approach to social media, your brand needs to make sure it stands out as well. Deion Sanders understood this burden — For him, success meant “I gotta high step, I gotta throw my arms in the air…I gotta make sure the attention is on me!”

Deion Sanders with his "Prime Time" jacket

Sanders kept his brand close to his chest, wearing his Prime Time leather jacket to training camps and working hard to advertise his versatility. He was known for his prowess in both the NFL and the MLB and was able to use that arm of his brand to score commercial gigs like this one:

Your brand should strive to create an equally recognizable persona. As a company full of individual employees, make sure that everyone is aware of your voice, your character.

When Deion Sanders intercepted an end-zone pass on the last play of his final college football game (you can’t plan this sort of thing) the announcers screamed “Picked off by Prime Time! Neon Deion!” Prime Time hosted Saturday Night Live shortly after winning his first Super Bowl with the San Francisco 49ers and even his opening monologue, while not particularly funny, is fully aware of the Prime Time brand.

This is the complete acceptance you want for your brand. When people think of your target market or product, your brand should be the first thing out of their mouth.

3. Have the Quality to Back It Up

Simply standing out wouldn’t have been enough for Deion Sanders, and it’s not enough for your brand. You need to make sure you have the quality needed to be taken seriously — for Prime Time this meant being an extremely talented player on the field, for you it means putting out a product that never disappoints.

Deion Sanders playing football for Florida State

On a lesser athlete, the Prime Time persona would have been a crude, aggravating disaster. For Deion Sanders it was a whopping success. No one is going to challenge your personal behavior when thousands of fans are screaming your name and you’re setting all kinds of league records.

For example, Prime Time hit a Major League home run and scored an NFL touchdown in the same week. The touchdown happened the very first time he touched a football in the NFL, and after initially botching the catch. That’s a legacy you can’t contradict.

4. A Legacy that Lasts

Deion Sanders has since retired from sports, and while he’s no longer flaunting the Prime Time character he’s certainly worked hard to maintain Neon Deion’s relevance. He’s a frequent NFL Analyst, he coached a Women’s NBA Team and he’s always quick to apply sports related lessons to life in motivational speeches and interviews.

When speaking about his new reality TV show, Sanders said “I want you to know me as the best father that ever lived!” The man, regardless of what character he’s presenting, has an insatiable thirst to be the best.

Can the same be said about your brand?

Deion Sanders as Leon Sandcastle

For a great example of how the Deion Sanders brand has managed to stay relevant, look no further than his series of Leon Sandcastle videos he did in 2012 for the NFL Network. In the series, Deion Sanders reapplies to the NFL as Leon Sandcastle and takes the sport by storm.

And this might be the best lesson brands can learn from Prime Time…he never stops working hard to stay in the conversation, even if it means a sort of meta-commentary on his own brand / life or a complete reinvention.

What other lessons have you learned from professional athletes?


10 Event Planning Pitfalls You Don’t Want to Make

Safety, Cleanliness, and Organization are key to a successful event! Fear that you may be forgetting something about the big day you’ve been planning for the last six months? The following are a few blunders that have come before you; check them out and see how you can solve the problem before it ever arises.

Problem: Not getting all the resources or talent you may need.

Solution: Make sure all resources are part of your skills assessments; even people like vendors, outsourcers, contractors, etc. Sometimes these people are forgotten because of the crazy amounts of work to be done, but it’s important to have the right people and the right set of skills needed to pull off your event.


Problem: Not keeping track of changes that occur.

No matter how much planning occurs in the first few steps of event planning, there are bound to be changes made to the plan within a few days of the event occurring. Not keeping track of these changes can mess with things like your budget!

Solution: Use a formal tracking system, it can help you keep control of what all is being changed and how it will affect your budget and your timeline. Make sure everyone is coming to you with any changes so that you can assess the changes it will make to the rest of the plan.


Problem: Varying Expectations

Sometimes your expectations can conflict with another’s expectations and on the day of an event things might go terribly wrong in your mind, while someone else thinks it is going great.

Solution: Make sure you’re vocalizing your expectations and being clear about what you do and don’t want to happen the day of the event.


Problem: Poor Promotion

You will end up with only a handful of people at your event if you don’t make it known how spectacular it will be.

Solution: Have promotion as part of your early planing; let people know it’s going to be happening weeks in advance so they can plan for it, then as you get within a few weeks of the event make it a huge deal with flyers, banners, online promotion, and word of mouth to ensure that plenty of people know that this event is not worth missing!


Problem: Not being able to contact your people

If you don’t know who is in charge of what, it will be impossible to stay in contact with everyone you need to be in contact with in order to make your event run smoothly.

Solution: Keep track of who is in charge of what via a spreadsheet. Make sure you know who to contact and what their contact information is for each category of your event.


Problem: Overlooking competing events

It’s easy to be so focused on your own event that you don’t think to make sure you won’t have a noisy neighbor event going on right next to your own.

Solution: Look into all events going on in the area the day of your event. Check with venues next to yours to see the hours things are happening, check city/community websites to ensure no big town events are occurring either.


Problem: No “what if” plan

What if your venue is outside and it starts raining or snowing, or the sun is so darn hot that no one wants to dance? What if your venue has a sudden fire two days before your big event? What if? What if?

Solution: Plan B; have a backup plan, always! Even if that means a cancellation or rescheduling plan, you should have one. It will be a million times more stressful and difficult to come up with a new plan on the day of, when things are going wrong.


Problem: No Parking

It can be difficult to know how much parking you will actually need at a given event, but it is an important thing for your guests. You don’t want them to start their day stressed out and mad about not being able to even get to your event!

Solution: If you are unsure about the amount of parking available at the actual venue, find a parking lot a bit further away and lock that down for your guests. Then all you need are a few charter buses to haul people back and forth.


Problem: Stinky Bathrooms

Nobody likes to go into a bathroom that has obviously been used over a hundred times that day and hasn’t seen a good scrub down since the day before.

Solution: Think about this beforehand and make sure you hire someone to be on bathroom patrol. Guests will be much more spry if the restrooms are not a disaster.


Problem: No plans for a medical emergency

Emergencies happen every day: seizures, heart attacks, sharp object accidents, etc.

Solution: At the very least know where the nearest emergency room is so you can get there in a timely manner if needed. Have evacuation plans posted if you are indoors. And if you deem it necessary you can even contract with an ambulance to be on site for the duration of your event.


We know there is a lot of planning to be done before the day of a big event, but we hope that these little reminders will help you to plan for even the little things so that your event can be as successful as possible.









The 6 Best Fictional Brands

Branding is essential to the life of a company or corporation. An image or logo can greatly increase the popularity and familiarity of one’s brand, but sometimes all it takes is a great name and reputation. We’re all familiar with the major brands that exist today: Nike, Apple, Hanes, Ralph Lauren, Goldman Sachs, etc. These companies have spent years conquering their respective fields and establishing their brands throughout the world.

Branding can be equally effective in fictional worlds. Many movies and TV shows have also established fictional brands within their properties. Ironically, some of these fictional brands have become more popular and familiar than other real world brands. Let’s take a look at some of these fictional brands and companies and see what has made them either so “successful” or popular within pop culture.

Acme Corporation

This is the company that is heavily featured in the Looney Tunes cartoons, particularly the episodes dealing with Wile E. Coyote’s attempts to capture the elusive Road Runner. Coyote’s schemes typically involve products made by the Acme Corporation. Such products include anvils and explosives, however they have also been known to produce some wildly inventive traps used by Wile E. Coyote. The word “acme” has Greek origins that suggest peak or prime. Ironically, Acme’s products usually are faulty and prone to fail leaving Coyote hilariously injured. One has to wonder how such a company continues to return a profit; Wile E. must be their sole reason for staying in business.


Oscorp Industries is a multi-billion dollar corporation within the Spider-Man properties. The company was founded and is run by Norman Osborn. As depicted in the latest Amazing Spider-Man films, Oscorp has been investing in radical scientific discoveries leading to genetic reconstruction and performance enhancing chemicals. In the films, the corporation is seemingly responsible for producing Spider-Man’s most notorious villains. With this type of business, the future cannot be too bright for this corporation.

Wayne Enterprises

This corporation was founded by the Wayne family in the fictional city of Gotham. Bruce Wayne now runs the company which is a frontrunner in creating cutting edge technology that has formed very profitable military contracts. These discoveries also provide Bruce Wayne with a plethora of gadgets to use as his alter-ego, Batman. We will see the newest version of Bruce Wayne and Wayne Enterprises with the release of the new film, Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice in 2016.

Weasleys’ Wizard Wheezes

Though this shop may not be as big or profitable as some of the corporations mentioned previously, it is loads of fun. Weasleys’ Wizard Wheezes is a joke shop run by the Weasley twins, Fred and George, in the Harry Potter universe. Fred and George were always pranksters throughout school, so what better career venture to pursue after school than sharing their mischievous talents with the wizarding world. Such products include: Love Potions, Pimple Vanishers, and Pygmy Puffs. The sign outside the store tells you exactly what you need to know about the shop: “Why are you worrying about You-Know-Who? You should be worrying about U-No-Poo — The constipation sensation that’s gripping the nation!”

Sex Panther by Odeon

Brian Fantana, the fictional womanizing news reporter from the Anchorman films, first introduced the world to the notorious men’s fragrance known as Sex Panther. The product is best described by Fantana himself:

“It’s called Sex Panther by Odeon. It’s illegal in nine countries. Yep, it’s made with bits of real panther, so you know it’s good.”

Has there ever been a better slogan for a product? Though some may claim that the cologne smells like pure gasoline or a used diaper filled with Indian food, the results speak for themselves: “60% of the time, it works everytime.”

Stark Industries

Let’s take a bit longer to explore this fictional international corporation that is run by Anthony Edward Stark, also known as Tony Stark or Iron Man. Marvel Comics, and particularly Marvel Studios, have really progressed the popularity of Stark Industries with their wildly successful film franchise that includes Iron Man, Iron Man 2, Iron Man 3, and Marvel’s The Avengers. Stark Industries has also crossed over into the other Marvel Studios’ properties including the Hulk, Captain America, and Thor films. In fact, Tony’s father, Howard Stark (who founded the company) played a prominent role in the transformation of scrawny Steve Rogers into the formidable super soldier now known as Captain America. It was Stark Industries, primarily Howard, who was responsible for creating Captain America’s nearly indestructible shield.

Howard and Tony Stark made their fortune based on a large military contract with the U.S. government. Stark Industries created sophisticated, yet highly dangerous weapons for the various military branches. After Tony Stark is held captive by a group of terrorists known as the Ten Rings in Afghanistan, Tony learns that his company’s weapons are falling into the wrong hands like these terrorists. In order to escape, Tony creates an arc reactor to power the electromagnet that is keeping shrapnel from entering his heart. After creating the ground-breaking arc reactor, Tony then builds a war suit that is powered by the reactor. Using this new suit, Tony is able to eliminate many of his enemies and escape from captivity.

After returning to the United States, Tony vows to take the company of Stark Industries away from creating weapons of mass destruction, and use his knowledge and resources in creating clean energy for the world. Since that time, Stark Industries has followed Tony Stark’s dream and has become the prominent name in clean energy. Though the company has shifted its focus, Tony still continues to experiment with creating new Iron Man suits that can fulfill numerous functions in order to protect those closest to Tony. He also protects the innocent from threats such as an alien invasion on New York. Saving the world has to be good for business. We will see what Tony and Stark Industries are up to in next year’s film, The Avengers: Age of Ultron. Some speculate that in the film Tony may be responsible for inadvertently creating the film’s titular villain, Ultron, who is an A.I. robot. We will have to wait and see if these speculations turn out to be true in 2015!


The Successful Branding of 13 College Dropouts

Success is hard to come by, but easy to dream about. A simple Google search of “how to be successful” generates “about” 160 million links, all waiting to instill their boundless knowledge.

I’ve spent my own life making lists of goals, asking advice, constantly trying to build my personal brand. In my eyes, a strong brand would lead to a great job and, ultimately, financial reward.

No matter who I asked or how many goals I scribbled down, there was always a placemark I had to reach first – a gatekeeper I had to vanquish before I could become successful.

But before I could land my dream job and swim in my pool of gold like Scrooge McDuck I had to…

Attend college.

That was a lot of buildup for something so commonplace. The importance of going to college is no secret, with every student in the country hearing the mantra throughout their life. I can still flashback to my own parents trying their hardest to teach me this lesson.

Punk-me was always ready to pull out the “well, so-and-so didn’t go to college!” argument, as though that was the world’s most infallible trump card. And to be honest, this argument has quite a bit of weight behind it. It’s only becoming heavier as more and more startup companies strike it rich and students drop out of college to pursue their financial dreams.

Deciding not to attend college wasn’t always such a big deal. Several lists of the “100 Most Successful Entrepreneurs Who Didn’t Go To College!” include individuals like Christopher Columbus and Thomas Edison. As far as I’m concerned, if college wasn’t the norm, then dropping out or bypassing it shouldn’t be noted. If we’re talking about the late 1400s — seriously, why does Columbus show up on so many of these lists? — I’d be more interested in who DID go to college back then.

But I digress.

Opting out of college is all about finding success by taking risks, right? Going against the grain, against the advice of parents, mentors, society, to follow your passions – it’s not easy; but when you decide against making a college degree part of your Personal Brand, you need to make sure you have the gumption and skill to fill in the gaps and excel.

And while we’re talking about excellence, here’s our list of 13 contemporary entrepreneurs who prove runaway success can be found without a college degree.

Ansel Adams (Photographer):

  • Photographer Ansel Adams may be the oldest person on this list, but his abundant output and acclaim (and this author’s personal bias) make him a worthy candidate.

  • Adams struggled with formal schooling from a young age, finally graduating from 8th grade at the age of 15, only to later display the diploma in the guest bathroom of his house.

  • He proves that artistic pursuits can replace formal education. Biographers credit his proficiency at piano with providing structure and discipline to a life that was previously so volatile.

  • And Adams had the talent to find success, even without education. Before he turned 20, he had his photographs of the Yosemite Valley published to wide acclaim.

David Geffen (Entertainment Mogul):

  • Before he became the “G” of DreamWorks SKG, David Geffen had founded two extremely successful record labels and signed countless influential artists. Asylum Records came first in 1970, followed by Geffen Records in 1980.

  • Geffen’s first foray into the entertainment industry came when he worked in the mailroom of the William Morris Agency, after dropping out of three different universities. Geffen proves that a college education isn’t required to be successful, but it is handy for getting a job. He had to forge a letter from UCLA saying he was a graduate for him to even make it into the William Morris mailroom.

  • Despite Geffen’s runaway success, he once described himself as “like the guy behind the curtain in THE WIZARD OF OZ.” This may be the best lesson of all — if you have the creativity and ability to be someone, don’t let anything stand in your way.

Richard Branson (Virgin Group Founder):

  • From an early age, Richard Branson, founder of Virgin Group (as well as several other business ventures,) seemed destined for entrepreneurial success. His first go-ahead was a magazine called Student, which he started when he was 16. By 20, he started a mail-order record business which led to opening a chain of Virgin Record stores in 1972.

  • Dropping out of college did little to stem Branson’s insatiable spirit. He’s since founded Virgin Airways, Virgin Mobile, and Virgin Trains. Saying the sky’s the limit for Branson would be an understatement; with the founding of Virgin Galactic, he hopes to make space travel an option for citizens.

David Green (Hobby Lobby Founder):

  • David Green founded the arts and crafts chain Hobby Lobby on August 3, 1972. You don’t need to attend college to see an opportunity when it presents itself — capitalizing on the personal decorating fad of the early 1970s, Green started a home business called Greco Products.

  • The rest has been immortalized in wall placards, nic-nacks, and crafts around the country. Green has ensured that each Hobby Lobby store is owned and operated by the home corporation, helping to build his personal wealth.

Steve Jobs (Apple Co-Founder):

  • Steve Jobs dropped out of Reed College due to the school’s financial requirements, and in 1976, together with Steve Wozniak, founded Apple Computer Company in the garage of Jobs’ parent’s house.

  • Despite his missing collegiate diploma, Steve Jobs had the confidence and technical know-how to make his personal brand relevant. His first job at Atari came based on a version of the video game Pong that was designed by Wozniak. Even at this early stage, Jobs proved that he had the business acumen and vision necessary to later drive Apple to its current prominence.

Debbi Fields (Mrs. Field’s Cookie Founder):

  • There’s more money in the cookie industry than you’d expect. At least their was for one of the earlier Cookie Magnates, Debbi Fields, founder of the Mrs. Field’s Cookie Company. For Fields, a college degree was supplanted by a contagious cookie concoction. She remains the spokesperson of the brand, but sold the business to an investment group in the 1990s.

John Mackey (Whole Foods Co-Founder):

  • Some entrepreneurs seemed destined to turn one dollar into two, others seem destined to make the world a better place. John Mackey co-founded Whole Foods Market in 1980, after dropping out of college to start an earlier health food store named SaferWay in 1978.

  • Mackey has since turned his attention towards more altruistic endeavors, including animal welfare and political activism.

John Paul Dejoria (Paul Mitchell Co-Founder):

  • John Paul Dejoria’s business conquests include the one-two punch of Paul Mitchell and Patron Spirits Company. Actually, it’s probably better to describe his ventures as a one-two punch-kick combo since they’re so different.

  • After graduating High School, and spending two years in the US Navy, Dejoria held a few odd jobs, including one for Redken Laboratories, a popular hair care company. He was soon fired and retaliated by founding Paul Mitchell with a $700 dollar loan.

Anne Beiler (Auntie Anne’s Pretzel Founder):

  • If the booming tech industry is the most popular reason to bypass collegiate education, the food industry wins second place. After learning customer service and old fashioned pretzel making when she was younger, she began selling hand-rolled pretzels in 1987. The soft, addictive pretzels took off and the evidence is likely visible in your local mall.

John Carmack (ID Software Co-Founder):

  • Like many other entrepreneurs entering the technology industry, John Carmack dropped out of college to be a freelance programmer. In 1991, he and a few of his contemporaries founded ID Software, a video game company that has pioneered several advancements in 3D graphics.

Jake Nickell (Threadless.com Co-Founder):

  • Jake Nickell was able to combine his defunct pursuit of an art degree with his passion for communal input when he co-founded the t-shirt company Threadless.com in 2000. He tapped into a crowdsourcing model that has only expanded in the years since, using it to generate ideas, clientele, and a close knit community of rabid fans.

Mark Zuckerberg (Facebook Co-Founder):

  • Harvard University provided Zuckerberg with the initial idea and environment for TheFaceBook, but the skills needed to build and fully realize the website came from his own determination and skill. He was known as a computer programming prodigy long before he arrived at Harvard.

  • After launching Facebook on February 4, 2004 Zuckerberg dropped out of Harvard during his sophomore year.

Ashley Qualls (WhateverLife.com Founder):

  • By appealing to the growing market of internet savvy millennials, Ashley Qualls became a millionaire by the age of 17. Her website WhateverLife.com supplied free MySpace templates and her revenue came entirely from third-party advertising.

  • Qualls stands in contrast to several other teen-entrepreneurs because her venture was entirely independent. There were no older siblings or business-savvy parents to turn to — At age 17, Qualls even had to sue for her right to control her finances.