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Quote of the Day

   "Iron rusts from disuse, stagnant water loses its purity, and in cold weather becomes frozen; even so does inaction sap the vigors of the mind."   

- Leonardo da Vinci

Brand and Character

Buy a 2' x 3' Poster

(July 16, 2009)
I was standing in an art gallery in Santa Cruz standing in front of the painting you see above. (In person it is 6' X 9' and the detailing is incredible.) The artist came by and we discussed the idea of branding, marketing, icons and the tweny something market. He was kind enough to send me a summary in writing:
I'll offer my thoughts on branding, being of a generation that hasn't known anything but.

A business, no matter the size, operates inside a community. Communities are based on exchange and agreement. Brand is essential to that process. It is commitment and accountability beyond "You sold me a bad cow."

Except for a few instances, today's consumer has the ability to pick from countless corporate partners. You are one in a hundred, but my money is my money. Exchange happens only so long as your customer lets it. The consumer is farther and farther away from the product, not to mention the actual worker.

In lieu of a real interaction, what can we grab onto? Your company has its logo... but what about its character? If your business were a walking, talking, performing thing, what and how would it be?

This is an easy one for Disney. It's an easy one for Snickers and Honda and Apple and Marlboro. These are companies with physical products, things that the consumer will actually handle and interact with on a routine basis. The product can be the brand and speak for itself.

That is, unless you provide a service or an idea. With virtual products, too many of which require monetary exchange before the product is even shown, the consumer needs a greater consistency of character. Our only interaction with your company will be through that 7" by 9" window-screen that renders all things more-or-less equal.

What distinguishes you? What makes you a desirable part of our experience/process/community? How can you create recognition before first-contact?

Make yourself a Mickey Mouse.

I am not suggesting that puppets and bright colors will sell a mediocre product, though they can. I am also not suggesting that most of you have the money to truly fund that level of marketing. I am suggesting only that having a unified company persona helps me, psychologically, to go through the steps with you.

Characterize you company! What is it, what does it do, how does it act, relate, compete and serve? If you can't do this, how can we? The closer you can match your representation with the experience we will have, the more we'll interact with it. Disagreement between your marketing and our experience will result in less repeat users. An effective brand promotes product quality and vice-versa.

- Ray Sumser

Ray posts thought-provoking art every day at and has just completed his tour-de-force at

Ray is worth bookmarking. He is offering 2' X 3' posters of the Comicosm for a little under $25 - the first 100 will be numbered and signed.

He can be reached by email a rayraywhatray @

Ray lives and works in the Tannery in Santa Cruz, California.
His piece, Comicosm, can be seen all month at:

The Mill Gallery,
131 Front St.,
Santa Cruz, CA, 95060

Colleen Gildea

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